The “other room” is empty right now.
“Where’s bruver (brother)?”
Usually my reply is Oh, he’s in the other room, baby. Today, that’s not my reply. Today, my reply isn’t a reply at all, as much as it’s a brave attempt to choke down emotions, so I don’t scare my two babies. “He’s at school.”
“Yes, baby, school. He’ll be back later.”
“He’ll be bat way-der (back later)?” She mimicks.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been gearing him up for this. “Baby, where is it you’ll be going this year?”
“School!” he’ll say, triumphantly, or sometimes it’s almost mechanical or automated, like it isn’t happening to him.
“That’s right! And you’re going to hang out with your new teacher, and your new friends, and play games, read books, eat lunch, play outside, make crafts, and then mommy will come pick you up after school.”
Usually, his responses ranged from excitement to aloof-ness. Today he responded “Am I going to be a-wone (alone)?”
It took everything I had to not break apart into a million little mommy pieces right there by the van as I unsnapped him from his car seat. “No, no, baby. You’ll be with your nice teacher, and your new friends! I’ll drop you off in a few minutes, and …”
“You’re weaving (leaving)? Is it forever?”
Oh. My. Heart.
“No, baby, no!! You know how I drop your brother and sisters off? How we go pick them up again later? That’s what I’m going to do with you! You’re coming home with me after school. Okay? What do you think about that?”
(Trying not to lose it.)
(Me, that is.)
“Otay. I guess..”
The teacher was wonderful this morning, all smiles and such the welcome I needed this morning while in panic mode. She alerted me they would be getting breakfast, even though normally it’s over by then. That helped ease me somewhat, as he hadn’t finished his egg sandwich this morning, and I feared, because he “grazes” over food throughout the day, that he would not make it to lunch without getting upset over being “hungwy”.
I walked away one child less, one hand empty without a small hand holding it, fumbling for words among my scattered thoughts.
Once I returned home, with one less child to unstrap from the car, one less juice cup to fill, one less meal to prepare for lunch, I kept remembering little things. Oh! What about snack, I forgot to ask.. or Oh! Maybe I should call in check in, I forgot to tell her that he forgets to close the bathroom door… and I had to keep stifling those thoughts.
Passing all of the family pictures in the hallways, his wayward shoe, escaped from the closet, the pajamas he haphazardly left in the middle of the floor, like snakeskin. He’ll be back in a few hours. It’s only a few hours. He’s been with me all of his life, it’s only a few hours.
You know, once upon a time, through a tumultuous birth and my husband’s deployment, came forth a spitfire of a little boy in all of his 8lb 9oz goodness and newborn smells.
Five years and 3 months later, he’s got on a big boy belt, his hair is curled just so, his big boy lunch is packed, and he’s strapped on his backpack eleven sizes too big (or so it seemed).
And he’s at school. For the first time.
And even though he’s already there, I’m still not ready.
And that sounds just about perfect to me.
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