I sent my boy off to Kindergarten today. We've been preparing for this day for weeks, months really, talking about the things that he'll do and learn. I've been trying to get him excited, to avoid the tears and separation anxiety so many people talk about.
I may have done too good of a job.
We walked into the school this morning at 7:40. Well, I walked. Alex was bouncing around like a demented bunny on a steady diet of amphetamines and coffee. It was all I could do to get him to hold still long enough for the obligatory first day of school photo.
We walked down what felt like the shortest hallway in the world, me trying to slow him down and Alex rushing to join the throng of children heading for the check-in table. Reaching the table they ask what group he's in. "Orange," I say, proud to have remembered this important fact. While I have my 5 second conversation with the teacher, Alex has already located his name tag and is attempting to peel the backing. The teacher smiles as I stick the tag to Alex's shirt, pressing firmly to make sure it sticks, to ensure that everyone knows my baby's name today.
We follow the crowd to the Auditorium, Alex dragging me along. As soon as we walk in the sound hits me, dozens of children in various states of excitement and dismay. Alex makes his way to an empty seat in the front row, next to a boy in a green shirt, eager to make a new friend.
The boy is sad, however, and Alex is baffled by this.
And that pretty much sums it up. To him, this is all an adventure, the first step into the most exciting thing he's ever done. How can anyone be scared or sad or lonely or nervous when everything is so grand? And just like that, the sadness that was welling inside of me evaporates, morphing into delight at the joy he feels. I kneel down, giving him a kiss and receiving a lick in return (a delightful habit he's developed lately). I hug him and move to stand when he throws his arms around my neck, squeezing tightly. "Love you, Mama," he whispers in my ear. I laugh, relieved that he needs me after all and hold him tight. Just seconds later I disentangle myself and step away.
"Be good today," I tell him, mock stern. He grins, mischievous. He settles into his chair and I move towards the door, and just like that, I'm no longer the focus of his world. He looks around as I watch, kicking his feet as he takes it all in. When I reach the door I turn back one last time, expecting him to be watching.
He is not, of course, not my independent boy. I call his name and blow him a kiss. He sends one back and I'm gone, leaving him in the hands of people I've just met, letting him go, just a bit.