Kindergarten, First Day
Up before his alarm — and before anyone else in the house — he puts on the clothes he so carefully chose and laid out last night.
How did he get so big? I wonder. (Lots of birthdays, he would answer. When he says this, I do not know if he is making a joke or being literal.)
We sit down to a nice, non-rushed breakfast — oatmeal.
I can do this, I think.
As we head outside for pictures, he notices something. He had so much fun surprising a few of his friends with Good Luck messages chalked on their driveways, and he is genuinely surprised — and utterly delighted — that someone has done the same for him.
Thank you for this community of friends that love me by loving my children, I pray.
A spontaneous cheer from Ian: “Go, Simon, go! Go, Simon, go! Go, Simon, go!” And Clara adds some fancy dance moves to the mix.
If you rush over there and squeeze the stuffing out of them, the moment will pass and you won’t get it on video, I remind myself.
He hardly stands still to snap the obligatory pic standing — backpack at the ready — in front of the house.
Well, I’m glad he’s so excited, I tell Jason.
Our little neighbor friend, also starting kindergarten today, comes over to say hello. Simon eagerly shows him the chalk drawings and a baseball bat and several other random things from the garage. Then he gets an idea: he challenges the friend to a bicycle race. Simon — who, between you and me, cannot ride a bike yet at all — straps on his helmet and gets all set at the top of the driveway. Almost before you can say, “On your mark, Get set, Go!” our neighbor friend is down the driveway and across the street. “Oh,” Simon says matter-of-factly, “I cannot ride that fast.”
Thank you, I pray again. And walk with him, Jesus, in all the tasks ahead that he will try. I know that sometimes he will be more successful than other times, and I know too that sometimes he will fail. Help him to try anyway.
Time to get in the car.
It’s not too late! I want to scream. Lock him in the house and beg him to be a baby forever.
We walk, all five of us, about a block from our car to the school. There are parents and grandparents and kids and cameras everywhere. As we get close, he whispers, “Mommy, I’m going to let go of your hand now.”
It begins, I sigh. Let it go.
“No, wait. I think I still want to hold it.“
Just act casual, I think. Just. Be. Cool.
The bell rings, and we move ahead with the flow of traffic. I barely notice anyone around me. I am concentrating, memorizing this moment, trying to make it last unnaturally long. I am determined not to cry in front of him. Walking down that last hallway approaching his classroom, though, twice I feel the hotness rising behind my eyes, and in an effort to stop it, I give Simon’s hand a squeeze. Twice he gives me a little squeeze right back, without even looking at me.
Who is reassuring whom, here? I marvel.
His teacher greets him at the door — enthusiastically and by name — and explains to him how to move his lunch card and where to put his backpack.
Oh, I like her, I think again. Yes, this is good.
A hug for Daddy and Clara. And then a hug for Ian. “And a kiss!” Ian says. My heart melts, and I barely get a wave before he’s off to find a book and sit on the carpet per instructions.
That’s okay, I think. I really am glad he’s so eager.
And then suddenly we are back in the car. Simon is all dropped off. And I let it go. The tears fall freely.
Dear Jesus, I whisper. Dear Jesus. Dear Jesus. Dear Jesus. Be with Simon today. Help him to be brave and kind. Remind him that you are always near. Thank you for his teachers. Thank you for Simon, and thank you for letting me be his Mommy. Comfort me today when I miss him, and calm my fears. Thank you for the time I get to spend with the littles. Be near. Teach us to glorify you in all we think, say, and do.