I knew this day was coming.
Like a freight train rolling down the tracks it crept closer one square calendar day at a time. I kept looking ahead to the dwindling days of summer as though they would never actually have an end. There couldn’t possibly be anything more to this familiar life than baseball, ice cream and home. Could there? This brown-eyed boy and I would continue on our regularly scheduled agenda as nothing monumental was waiting just around the corner. Right?
It’s just pre-k I kept telling myself. It’s a playgroup for four year olds and we need the quiet time, I affirmed to my reflection as I curled my hair and powdered my nose. He needs to spread his wings and be taught another way to fly, I repeated, not quite believing myself but not disbelieving either. I need to give my Boy and Girl the kind of attention that an energetic four year old boy can only hinder, I reminded myself, all the while second-guessing my intentions and plans for the school year.
But no matter how firmly I planted my feet at the starting line, my knees were undoubtedly weak when the gun sounded. I listened this morning as his father quietly explained what the word “nervous” meant and whether or not he was feeling that way. I listened as he chatted on about every early morning thought he could think of. I filled his new backpack with all the things I thought he might need while reminding myself that goldfish pretzels and a juice box would be enough and that adding a photo album of us might be overdoing it. It’s only three hours, I reminded myself with a bit of embarrassment at the knot looming in the back of my throat.
He slurped his honey nut Cheerios and talked with his mouth full.
I slowly sipped my coffee and blinked my eyes often.
I made slow, deliberate moves in a subconscious effort to delay the inevitable while he couldn’t move his small feet fast enough. It must have been the new sneakers.
You talked incessantly on the ride to your new school. I listened as though I was bringing you to boot camp and wouldn’t be seeing you again for six weeks. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how I muddle through life being such a sentimental slop.
You took big steps; again those new sneakers seemed really something. You let me kiss your cheek and didn’t look back as you took your teacher’s hand, which was probably for the best because watching your Mama snivel while wiping her nose on her sleeve is never a good way to start your morning.