At least you know they’re coming back
Everything had been properly labeled. Every box of crayons, every folder with Spiderman and Mustangs on it had his name neatly written across the top. His book bag had been cleaned out and loaded with an assortment of pencils, markers and glue sticks.
I did it about a week ahead of schedule, but our son James was ready for his first day of “big school.”
All his school supplies sat in the corner of the dining room. Everything was ready for his big day. But as the days dwindled down, I realized that it was me who wasn’t really ready.
For weeks, my husband Jason and I talked to James about kindergarten. We covered everything from making new friends to taking his nap to paying attention to his lessons.
We even prepared him for the earth-shattering idea of his baby sister Elsie going to daycare without him.
We thought we had all our bases covered.
But it was the evening before his first day of school when I lost it. I was an emotional wreck.
Grabbing his book bag, I wanted to try it on James to make sure everything was fit and snug.
“Let’s see how you will look for your first day of big school,” I said, slipping his Cars book bag over his shoulders.
As if he were a catalog model, he showed off his ticket to “big boyhood.” And then he looked up at me and grinned.
I immediately dashed into the living room. The tears began to roll down my cheek. I didn’t want my little boy to head off to big school, even if it’s just 4K. I wanted him to stay a little boy.
“Are you serious,” Jason asked, looking at me from the couch.
“It’s sad,” I blubbered. “He’s growing up, and I don’t like it.”
Poor James just stood there in silence with his book bag still on. He wasn’t sure what kind of emotional rollercoaster Momma was about to embark on.
But I wiped my tears and got back to my senses. I even started to brag about how handsome he looked in his new gear.
Later that evening, we started our new routine. We all sat down to supper, got James in the tub, brushed his teeth, read a bedtime story and tucked him into bed. Turning on nightlights and giving final hugs and kisses, the Patterson home rested.
But at 5 a.m., the alarm clock started blaring. I normally would sleep a little later, but preparing breakfast and getting a kid ready for school called for extra measures.
I somehow managed to get myself ready rather quickly. I put James’ breakfast on the table for him. I made sure his book bag was nice and neat. I got his clothes out for the day.
While he ate, I even had time to get Elsie ready for her solo appearance at daycare.
We were so ready for school that we were ready about half an hour before it was time to leave.
“We are getting ready too early,” Jason said, with his eyelids halfway down his face. “I’m sleeping an extra hour from now on.”
James has been at big school for about a week now. And we are starting to adjust to the new routine.
But that same feeling hits me every morning when I drop him off.
My stomach falls to my feet. My eyes water up just for a second. I want to grab him back into the car and take off for a day at the zoo or snuggle time at home.
But with a quick hop and a tug at his bag, James looks back at me and smiles.
I watch him walk into the building, down his own little path.
As I drive off toward work, I anxiously await that afternoon pickup. I’ll even start counting down the minutes to get Elsie shortly afterwards.
Watching them go doesn’t seem as hard if you know they will always come back.