No. It's all just words. I don't care what year we are on because in my mind he was born yesterday and why am I sending my little baby boy off in this line of children? I was fine at home. All business and healthy breakfast. Backpacks and bopping around like we do this everyday. I even merrily took a picture:
That's a legit smile. Mine was too.
But then, we got here. Here in the parking lot in front of the school. Here with all the neat chalk numbers showing the children exactly where to line up. Here with the swooping parents and humming mini-vans. Here with the early morning mist being burned away by sunlight that only hints at its future intensity. It's going to be a hot day. I feel flushed and uncomfortable already.
None of the other children are holding their parents' hands, so Super K. drops mine and goes to stand in line. He slips his hand out of mine so easily, so naturally, but the absence feels anything but natural. I don't know what to do with my hand, so I do what all these other parents are doing. I pull out my iPhone and I take his picture.
What's he thinking about? He looks so serious.
He looks so grown up and yet he looks so tiny!
I can't take this. Why can't I touch him? Why do all these other parents have to have such great restraint? Come on. Come on. Someone lose it and bear-hug your child so hard that everyone stares at you and won't notice me sneak in another quick kiss and hair tousle!
But no one cracks. So I call him, softly. I don't want to mess up his reputation by being the clinging mom. Plus, I'm maybe 3 feet away, so yelling would be kinda overkill. He turns and gives me this:
That is NOT a legit smile.
Then it hits me. He feels just like I do! He's nervous and excited and scared and happy and feeling tiny and big all at the same time. He wants to leave me and he doesn't want to leave me and probably wishes I would just go away so he could get on with the band-aid ripping already. But I don't leave because none of the other parents are leaving and plus I can't really move. I seem rooted to this little square of blacktop by a force far greater than the logical one that is telling me this would all feel a lot easier if I just went back to the van. Plus, no one would see me cry in there. But I stay. And I stay. And he avoids looking directly at me. And I stay. And he avoids me. And we hang like this forever. (It's about 2 minutes.)
Finally, the teacher starts to corral the kids and talk about going inside. Super K. turns and gives me this:
This seems a little more legit.
They shuffle a bunch, and then head off into the school. A swell of parents on iPhones moves and whirls around me but I stay rooted on my little square of blacktop and watch his blond head get smaller and smaller as they walk away. He does not look back once. They turn a corner and then he is gone.
I can feel the crash of tears coming, so I turn. And nearly collide with a fellow 1st grade mom. "Erin! How are you doing? Oh, why am I even asking? You look great and you have 3 more at home anyway!"
She leaves me and I continue to stand there for a minute. Wait. What? I have to do this 3 more times?!?!?!
We aren't doing a whole lot of shuffling around this year, Readers. Most of us are keeping our names. Super Baby, Super Toddler, and Super Preschooler are all still remaining the same. Super K. is going to become Super 1st grader, which we are shortening to Super 1st. As the oldest, we think he will appreciate this title greatly. I would just appreciate pick-up time coming quickly today. Tomorrow it can come when it likes, but today it needs to come fast.