Why is it that every emotion seems to be multiplied by 1,000 when you become a mom? Today was the first day of school in our neighborhood, and for my husband (a HS teacher in the town next to ours). It was not however, the first day of school for my son. Our little trooper has been in “school” since he was just shy of 4 months old, including summers. It’s not even his first day in a new classroom (he “graduated” to the toddler classroom in June) but still, it felt like a new beginning for all of us this morning. For one, Leo miraculously slept in until 7:30am and woke up smiling as he sauntered over to his doorway, proud of his newfound freedom having recently moved into a toddler bed. He had his “Li-Li” (stuffed Lion he’s slept with since his infant days), “Payay” (his pacifier) and his blankie in tow. He was in a happy mood, well rested and ready to play. I gently broke the news to him that it was a school day, that daddy was back to school and mommy had to work.
“No mama, I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay on the couch with you.”
Stay strong I told myself. DO NOT go cuddle with him on the couch. He must go to school! You must go to work! You have bills to pay!
I resisted the urge to lie to him, to bribe him, or the strongest urge of all, to plop down next to him for one more episode of Daniel Tiger.
Instead, I told him that he was a big boy and that we we’re so proud of him. That big boys go to school and make friends and learn new things and of course, they tell mommy and daddy all about it when they get home. Then I really hit the jackpot because just as we were leaving (new sneakers on, one Marshall sock, one Rubble sock, donning his Yankees hat and a skeptical smile), the school bus came down our street.
“School bus, school bus!” he cheered.
“Yes Leo, today is the first day of school for all the kids, and they are riding the bus to school.”
“I wanna ride the bus mama!”
“You will, when you’re a little bigger. But today you are going to school just like all the big kids. Should we follow the bus to school?” (Another win, the route to his daycare passes by the middle school so there are always buses on the road.)
“Ok. But I wanna play basketball after school. And baseball. And golf!”
And off we went. Behind the school bus as it picked up the little kids, the big kids and the really big kids, while moms, dads, siblings and pets watched, waved, cried, smiled and snapped photos. And I myself fought back tears behind my sunglasses because the days really are long but damn, those years are so short…
“Mama! School bus! There’s the kids!”
And on to school we went…
“Hold my hand in the parking lot, bud.”
And in he went. Trying to be brave but holding my hand just a little tighter than usual. He ran to play but then quickly came back over when he saw me lingering, chatting with his teacher and unpacking his stuff. He signaled for one more hug and I gladly obliged.
And off I went…