Sending my kids off to school has always been for me, a kind of inner celebration. Now, you know that I do tend to get very sad years and months before I need to be sad. But when the day finally does arrive, I’m pretty satisfied. “You did it kid, I’m proud of you, and you’re off.” And so far, two of my boys have followed suit, and have been eager to go.
This morning, however, things kind of caught me off guard. I have been very wrapped up in my oldest going to a new school, middle school, so it kind of surprised me when I looked across the table at my confident 3rd grader, my second oldest, and saw a look of trepidation. For one, he couldn’t find his jackdaw (a collection of five things about him) that he pulled together.
This school is old hat – it’s his 4th year. But I slowed down a little bit and tried to tune into him, and I realized how close and comfortable the six of us have become over the summer. We’ve been isolated at the lake, and built a stronger bond. And it just dawned on him this morning, that he’s leaving this cocoon. And then, I realize how nervous he just might be, because of this new realization that his older brother won’t be at school with him any longer. He’s on his own.
Then, I re-directed myself back to my new middle schooler, and realized he eats lunch at 10:40, and will not get home until 3:20. He’ll be starving. No snacks left in the house. We looked, and remembered we took all the spare food to the lake (2 hour trip to the store, remember). (OK, I’m not super mom – I dropped the ball on that one.)
Dad takes them away in the drizzly rain, and they’re off. I hate it when you have 5 minutes left with your kids, and they need something, and it’s not something you can really give them. It’s something they have to do on their own. I sat at the breakfast table with the two little guys.
I tried to form a thought – an image came to me of the future. What it will feel like when they’re gone too. It was an ugly thought. I knew it had something to teach me, something that would help me change the way I act now – but the little ones wouldn’t let me hang onto the thought. They were whining about wanting milk poured, questions about when their school starts. I started to snap at them, and then realized the irony of the whole thing. I’m losing patience with my kids because I want to know how sad I’ll feel on the mornings when they’re gone for good.
You see, deep down inside, I really, truly do not believe that they will grow up. The reality hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve had little ones for 11 years now; when one grows up, another one comes up to fill his place.
Then it was time for my little kindergartner to go. He’s as familiar with that school as he is with our living room. And his teacher is a friend. So, it completely caught me off guard when we stood on the playground, and he very slightly, grabbed my pant leg, and held on tight. I hadn’t expected him to do that. And he might as well have been pulling on my heart strings.
This was a new feeling. It felt warm, and bittersweet. I didn’t want him to go. But before I could finish that thought, his teacher came out, and pulled each child into a line, holding hands. A circle that kept him connected still to humans. So he went from holding my pant leg, to holding the hands of his new friends, which was connected back to his teacher. See the video here. (One of my worst – I think I was shaking.) Also, notice how his younger brother, is nothing but all too eager to fade into the circle and become one of them.
So that helped me to remember why I put him in the afternoon. It’s her. It’s that gift she has with kindergartners.
While they were away, I made snickerdoodles with my little guy. When I picked them up, they were all happy. They were surprised, I think, especially the one in middle school, at how effortless the whole day was. However, my kindergartner gave me a big, long hug. They missed each other — this was evidenced by 4 hours of wrestling with each other in the afternoon. Couldn’t keep their hands off of each other.
Last year was my year of “getting things done” while the kids were away at school. This year, time does not allow that. I’m thinking that I need to carefully schedule my seconds, and hope at the end of the year that I’ll be able to point to something and say, “Look what I accomplished.” But now, I’m not so sure if that’s the right approach.
I will need to re-think this hectic crazy, scheduled year. Maybe I should sit back, relax, and see what comes up. Because an awful lot of stuff came up today, that I had not expected. And guess what? I’m exhausted.