A Mother's Letter to a Son Starting Kindergarten
When your big brother and your little dog and I walked you up to school today, you had no idea how I was feeling.
You were so excited, you had packed and unpacked the washable markers and safety scissors in your backpack a dozen times.
I am really going to miss those lazy mornings when we waved your brother and sister off to school. I'd settle in with my coffee and newspaper, handing you the comics to color while you watched Sesame Street.
Because you are my youngest, I had learned a few things by the time you came along. I found out that the seemingly endless days of babyhood are gone like light-ning. I blinked, and your older siblings were setting off for school as eagerly as you did this morning.
I was one of the lucky ones; I could choose whether to work or not. By the time it was your turn, the glittering prizes of career advancement and a double income had lost their luster. A splash in the puddles with you in your bright red boots or "just one more" rereading of your favorite book, Frog and Toad Are Friends, meant more.
You didn't go to preschool and I'm not exactly Maria Montessori. I hope that doesn't hold you back. You learned numbers by helping me count the soda cans we returned to the store. (You could usually charm me into letting you pick out a treat with the money we got back.)
I'm not up on the Palmer method, but you do a fine job of writing your name on the sidewalk in chalk, in capitals to make it look more important. And somehow you caught on to the nuances of language. Just the other day, you asked me why I always call you "Honey" when we're reading stories and "Bud" when you're helping with chores. My explanation of the difference between a cud-dly mood and a matey one seemed to satisfy you.
I have to admit that in my mind's eye, an image of myself while you're in school has developed. I see myself updating all the photo albums and starting that novel I always wanted to write. As the summer wound down and more frequent quarrels erupted between you and your siblings, I was looking forward to today.
And then this morning, I walked you up the steep hill to your classroom with a picture of the president on one wall and of Bambi on the opposite. You found the coat hook with your name above it right away, and you gave me one of your characteristically fierce, too-tight hugs. This time you were ready to let go before I was.
Maybe someday you will deliver a kindergartner with your own wide-set eyes and sudden grin to the first day of school. When you turn at the door to wave good-bye, he or she will be too deep in conversation with a new friend to notice. Even as you smile, you'll feel something warm on your cheek . . .
And then, you'll know.