I moved my face close to his and listened to his peaceful breathing and the little sucking sounds he makes in his sleep (picture Maggie Simpson without the pacifier). I noticed the teensy tiny bit of chub left over from his preschool years, remembering how fat his cheeks used to be and realizing again that our baby years are over.
I thought briefly of homeschooling or at least insisting on one more year at home with me before kindergarten, and then he woke up excited to go and my crazy plans were foiled.
As they ate breakfast, Big Kid said, "So you guys are going to walk him to his class and I'll go to my class?"
"No, I want you to walk with us to drop him off so you can walk him there in the mornings. Then we'll walk with you to your class to say goodbye!" I answered.
"Oh, it's okay, I'll walk there with you guys and then walk ahead to my own class. I know where it is."
And it was then that I realized he didn't want us to walk him to his classroom on the first day of school.
"Big Kid, please!" I said desperately. "I won't try to kiss you." He stared at me quietly. "Or hug you! Or anything," I promised sadly.
"Alright, mom," he said in a hesitant voice, clearly pitying me.
We dropped little kid off and he was fine. He threw a bewildered look at the bawling kid in the corner, squeezed my hand a little tighter and walked me over to his desk where he dropped my hand, raised his cheek for a kiss and turned to start his day. I got to the door and had a mild moment of panic, turning back, certain that he was watching me or was upset...but he was already distracted. "LITTLE KID" I hissed, not ready to go. He looked up, I blew him a kiss and he waved as I stepped out of the room and tried not to cry on my way to Big Kid's class.
I noticed that Big Kid began walking quickly as we approached his room. "Big Kid...can I at least get handshake?" I said, voice wavering and cracking, heart pounding. He paused, taking a furtive look around the busy halls.
"Dude, your mom is about to cry. Just hug her," Mr. Ashley insisted.
Big Kid obligingly gave me a half squeeze around the waist before darting into his room, clearly not wanting me to cross the threshold. Probably a good choice.
And I came home to my empty house and I was sad. Sad that they don't need me and that babyhood is over (even though them needing me often drives me nuts and I'm not a huge fan of babyhood.) I felt as if I was laid off of my job-- maybe on my 2 weeks notice; tolerated but not needed. Phased out.
Then I went to the gym, enjoyed complete silence for hours, and didn't watch one minute of any kind of survival show, and life was a lot better again. Like, a lot a lot. The day went quickly.
When I picked them up, little kid said "I like-ed it but I miss-ed you. I really miss-ed you a lot but I had fun," which was the perfect answer.
Big Kid said, "My day was really long. I wanted to come home so bad at one o'clock. I just couldn't stop thinking about coming home, you know why?"
Dreading the inevitable answer about school being boring, I asked why and he replied, "Because I really love you. That's what I was thinking about, how I love my house and my mom," which was also the perfect answer.
And all was right with the world again.
(And I'm back to really liking the idea of being home alone so often!)