The 8:30 start comes fast in the morning and we are perennial late-comers to my daughter’s preschool. Her brother’s bus comes at 8:40 so we usually say goodbye through my rolled down window as I zoom down the street to her school hoping to not be more than 10 minutes late.
Since my husband works most days from here, after us girls head out, he and my son have some good old-fashioned male bonding time in the driveway until that big yellow bus comes and takes him to off to his school, also just a few minutes down the street.
But this morning, my husband’s conference call ran over and my son really wanted to take the bus. “Please mom?” His very large blue eyes and almost 9-year-old face pleaded with me.
With a very large gulp, I left him in the driveway alone. I told him not to talk to strangers and please wave to me if you see my car and then I pulled away and drove my daughter to school. I realize he would literally only be in the driveway by himself for about 3 minutes before his bus came to get him. And maybe his dad would be able to get there before then. But I was still very apprehensive and drove silently down my street with a lot of anxiety.
I quickly dropped my daughter off, got back in my car and was about to go across the street to his school and wait for his bus to make damn sure he got off. Then I thought, what if he sees me and gets embarrassed? What if he is mad and thinks I won’t let him grow up? (Which I certainly don’t want too, but that’s not the point.)
So I sat at an intersection where I knew his bus would pass. I just needed to know. As it passed by, I saw the back of his head. He was busy talking with friends, probably secretly screaming with excitement that he is a big kid now and waited for the bus without a grownup.
I knew he was safe. All grown up and safe.
When I got home, I found my husband in the kitchen making another pot of coffee. I asked if he got out to the bus in time. He did, he said, but our son told him to go back in with: “Mommy said it’s okay for me to wait for the bus by myself. I am old enough now.”
The lump came into my throat and my eyes welled up.
I do know he is old enough now. But I don’t like it. Not one single bit.
Today it’s the bus stop. Tomorrow he’ll be off to college.
I realize that at some point I will have to let go. Just as I am sure my own mother had to let go of me.
But he’s my little boy.
The same little boy who made me cry the day he was born because I took one look at him and realized I was a goner. I was the mother of a son. A beautiful baby boy who would bring me joy and make me tear out my hair at the same time. The boy who would make me laugh one minute and make my head spin around with frustration the next. This boy would bring tears to my eyes and swell my heart to bursting.
This giant replica of his father, with his too big feet, long gangly arms, a beautiful and mischeivous smile, easy-going spirit. He is growing up so fast. Time is flying by.
So today I won’t tell him I secretly spied on his bus ride. I will let him have that feeling of freedom. That feeling that he can do more by himself without his parents hovering.
But I can’t promise I won’t spy on him again. It’s a scary world and he’s still just a boy. He can wait for the bus “alone” though only if his parents are looking out the window making sure all is clear. We will let him venture out a little farther each day.