Monday, August 19, 2013

Big Man on Campus

I still remember dropping my first child off at his first day of kindergarten.

Not well, you know my memory sucks, but I have a recollection of thinking that this was one of the hardest life milestones--trusting my sweet little guy with a building full of strangers, neither of us wanting to end the hug before I left him for the day, sobbing on the way back home.

little kid was actually even harder because I felt like my job had officially gone part-time--that I was no longer quite necessary, just kept around for my loyalty and since I already knew the schedule.

I was jubilant about the thought of today, though, about the thought of being free once again. I'm now A-OK with being a "part-time" employee. In fact, I tried to talk them into being dropped off as car riders this morning but little kid sheepishly told me he would like to be walked inside if it wasn't too much trouble. I sighed a bit and then my heart softened. That is my baby and he is already a second grader. Of course I will walk him inside.

I did and he clung to me just a little tighter before letting go and turning to his teacher. I found solace in the fact that his cheek was still soft and slightly chubby like his baby self as I kissed it goodbye.

"Big Kid, do you want me to walk you to your classroom?" I asked when finished.

"Actually, mom, I'd prefer that you didn't. Sorry," he said apologetically. It stung.

"Oh. Would it be alright if I just walked you to your building? I won't go upstairs. You know, on the way out?" Despite it not being on the way out at all.

"Uh, okay," he reluctantly conceded.

We walked side by side, together but apart.

"Well, here we are," I said awkwardly, wanting a hug more than I've ever wanted a hug. Wanting to walk him upstairs more than I've ever wanted to walk upstairs. "Can I get a fist bump?"

He looked around furtively before crashing his fist into mine with a small "I'm totally pitying you, don't cry" type of smile before turning and rushing away with a casual "Bye".

I sucked my lips against my teeth as I walked down the hallway, trying to keep my chin from trembling. I consciously made a mental effort to smooth my forehead. I smiled at teachers and staff and glossy-eyed kindergarten parents, wishing them all good luck.

And I got in the car and cried. It was a different cry from the cry of that kindergarten parent; I was no longer crying because my child didn't want me to leave but because he was okay with me doing so.

I know this is a measure of my success as a parent--I am raising them to be independent adults who will do just fine in a building full of strangers. I just wasn't quite ready for this type of success today.

He is fine, and that is wonderful, and that hurts.


Tara said...

Awww....that was beautiful! It's so hard to let go, no matter what age they are. It's scary & exciting all at the same time.

Melanie said...

I'm with you, sister. It sucks to be successful sometimes. Just the other day I looked in the bottom of discarded Happy Meal boxes to see that both boys ate with no regard for the prizes inside. I stood in my kitchen and cried like a fool. Growing up is harder on parents sometimes.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Tara. I agree with scary and exciting, up until that minute I was really excited he got to be a big dog 5th grader!

Melanie, that's a sweet story and perfect example. We've also outgrown happy meals--and sometimes I miss them.

Unknown said...

You are an AMAZING mom. I love this post so much. You are raising them RIGHT!