Thursday, April 23, 2009

pass the tissues, please

I'm convinced his entire goal is to make us cry. He always succeeds. Were it not for the fact that he is so likeable, I would really hate that about him.

He greeted us all with high fives as my kindergartener stepped off the bus this morning with 14 other similarly nervous-looking six-year-olds and quickly came and grabbed my hand. Despite the fact we've been in the elementary school every day of the last four school years, Buddy was now suddenly nervous. What seemed downright blasé this morning was now unnerving him in his quiet little way, and I allowed him to cling for a moment as we were ushered into our classroom.

The visit to first grade is an important rite of passage at our school, for both children and parents alike. Because the kindergarten is housed separately from the elementary school, the visit is intended to calm any fears that may arise as fall approaches by making known the big unknown, both for the little and the big in attendance. Introductions were made, buddies were assigned, and the exploration began as the parents were whisked off to meet with the principal in order to allow the children time to spread their wings and move toward the edge of their safe little kindergarten nests. Or at least that's what they'd have you believe. But I know better.

Because this is the point at which he always makes us cry.

Get the emotion out of the way now, and next fall won't be so hard. Perhaps that is his philosophy. But I know enough from the tears in his own eyes as he talks about his oldest son to know that he knows better. There will be tears now, and there will be tears later, and that's okay. But it's still not nice to deliberately make us cry.

He begins, as he always does, by cutting right to the truest, deepest question within our hearts. "Your child will be cared for here," he tells us. Four years ago, it was these words that dissolved me, as that was, indeed, my greatest fear. Would my quirky little bundle of energy and excitement be received and appreciated for the joy she could be, or would that spirit within her be squelched and drained? The answer, I learned very quickly, was the prior. So now, four years later, these questions are a moot point for this mother. I know my son will be cared for here. I don't worry about that at all. I'm just not ready for him to BE here yet.

"The umbilical cord was cut six years ago," he reminds us. This is the line that kills me this year. "They're not ours—they're merely entrusted to us for just a short time." I know this. I KNOW this. But that doesn't mean I LIKE it.

My baby is not a baby any longer, and despite my desperate longing for full days of being BY MY SELF, I am just not yet ready to let go. I don't want the years to keep moving on. I don't want to think about my baby going to school all day. I don't want to think about approaching Bub's last year in this building, about middle school, about being home alone, about outgrowing the sweet one on one hand-holding dates to the zoo, the conservatory, to COSI that I have loved for the last ten years. I know the next stage will be good and will have its own unique joys. I know this. But I liked THIS stage. And this stage is almost over.

He knows this. And rather than dance around it and pretend it doesn't exist, he brings it right out in the open for us to acknowledge and even bond over, knowing that it may mean tears for some. For many, even. I suppose that is a good thing. I suppose. But I sure am glad I won't have to do it again…

Not until fall, at least.

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