Monday, August 25, 2014
Day 45 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
Today was a day of ‘firsts’. The first day of school. Connor’s first day of Kindergarten. Hannah’s first day of third grade.
Connor was all talk and energy, chattering away as he walked down the crowded school hallway with a Hot Wheels backpack that looked too big on him bumping beneath a fresh hair cut.
Hannah walked along beside me, mildly amused at her little brother’s enthusiasm. She was, after all, a veteran.
We walked Connor to his classroom first.
Kindergarten was a beehive of activity. We could barely walk into the room without brushing the shoulders of another parent escorting a little person.
Connor dragged Justin by the hand to his chair where Justin ooh’d and ah’d the appropriate number of times.
Connor carefully placed his backpack over the back of his chair, a move he’d no doubt rehearsed a thousand times over the summer.
He pulled out his chair and sat down.
Then a peculiar thing happened.
A condition rarely seen settled over my son: he got quiet.
Thanks to a birthday that didn’t quite make the cut off, he’d spent two long years in preschool watching his friends cross an invisible line into the realm of ‘school agers’.
He’d talked about Kindergarten the entire summer.
He had a backpack, for God’s sake.
And now the day was here. Really here.
All over his face was a phrase he could not yet articulate: Shit just got real.
I felt the tears building in a lump at the back of my throat so I quickly kissed the top of his head and told him I’d see him after school.
The three of us left him thinking his new school ager thoughts and warily contemplating the little blonde girl seated next to him.
Justin and I walked Hannah to her classroom next.
If Kindergarten was a beehive then the third grade was a ghost town.
Twenty or so eight year olds sat with heads bent studiously coloring worksheets. There were fewer parents in the third grade hallway and classrooms, and at first I didn’t understand why.
We walked Hannah to her seat where her teacher issued instructions to color her worksheet until class started.
I backed up a bit to take a picture and Hannah shot me a look that reeked of preadolescent embarrassment.
That’s when I realized what those missing third grade parents already knew.
Sometime in those brief two and a half months separating the end of second grade from the beginning of third grade we turned a corner.
On the first day of second grade, Hannah was fine with me taking pictures.
She was a good sport about taking pictures this morning at home.
Now that she was at school, her look said it all: Jeez, mom. People are watching.
In a lot of ways seeing this look was harder than leaving Connor. It reminds me that they won’t be little forever.
It also makes my heart hurt to think how my ongoing treatment is going to affect her.
That she can and probably will be embarrassed of me is bad enough, but it isn’t just that.
I remember how ruthless kids can be, and I worry she will be made fun of or bullied for having a mom with no hair.
Embarrassed or not, I kissed the top of her head. I told her to have a good day and that’d I’d see her after school.
Today’s silver lining: I made it to the hallway before I let the tears fall.
Justin heard me sniffling and looked over to see me wiping my eyes.
He laughed and took my hand, squeezing it gently.
I gave him a watery smile as we pushed through the double doors leading from the cool hallway out into the already hot August sunshine.
Another school year begun.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!