This morning we all got up earlier than usual. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to push back bedtime in anticipation of this day, knowing my not-so-little boy would usually still be asleep when the 7:50 bell rings on his first day of kindergarten. I had planned to wake him up at 6:50, but I hate waking up a sleeping child. I finally did at 7:00 this morning. Sure enough, the first thing he said was, “I’m still sleepy.”
He groggily climbed down from the top bunk and made his way to the bathroom and then the table for breakfast. I fed him his Cheerios and strawberries while he watched a cartoon on the iPad-I didn’t want to argue about feeding himself today. I just wanted to make sure he ate, because I was worried he wouldn’t eat anything on his own during lunch at school.
All too soon it was time to leave. He insisted on riding his racing bike with his new clip-in pedals, which meant we had to bring his regular shoes to change into at school. My husband and son left on their bikes, as they will for the rest of the year. But since it was the first day, I wanted to be there, too. I put the twins in their stroller and we set off separately to meet them there.
When we got there, my husband was locking up my son’s bike and said, “I forgot his shoes at home. I’ll be right back.” The kindergarten playground on the front of the school was a circus, full of parents and children waiting just like us. I snapped some pictures of his big smile to put in his scrapbook and chatted with other parents I knew while we waited. A few minutes later Dad was back with his tennis shoes and I walked with him to the end of Ms. Cook’s line.
A preschool friend was at the end of the line, and the two boys played and laughed together in line, waiting for the other classes and parents to clear out of the way. Finally Ms. Cook started to lead the line towards the classroom door.
“Can I have a hug, Buddy?” I asked. With a playful smile he stretched his arms out and jumped into a big hug, hanging his full 53 pounds from around my neck. I gave him a strong squeeze back, then set him down on the ground. “I love you. Have a great day!”
“Okay, Mommy,” he smiled and followed his line into the school.
And then he was gone. I was left standing in a sea of parents who had also just sent their children into their first day of kindergarten. Some were crying, some were laughing. I was doing neither. The noises faded away as I became momentarily lost in the slide show of memories playing in my mind of my son over the past five years. His contagious laughter, smile that lights up the room, boundless energy, and passionate curiosity. My heart was full of love, pride, and, I’ll admit, a little worry. I said a silent prayer that he would have a good day and then did the only thing left for me to do. I left.