School Daze

The house is quiet. The only thing I can hear is the tap tap of the rain on the windows and the hum of the refrigerator. (Thankfully it is on. We awoke this morning to no power. They said Post Irene power outages could happen. They were right, whoever “they” are. Sunday morning, too.)

But today is a special day. Today is the first day of school. The day when my baby girl joins her big brother in elementary school. Kindergarten!

Up early, all smiles, breakfast served, lunched packed, happy children, super mommy. It was a good dream.

But when I woke up to a gray rain and a dark room, as I fumbled for my book light, got my watch and realized we had no power, and no way of knowing if the outage was ours or townwide, it kind of threw a wrench into the morning routine.

I hadn’t heard any of the upper school buses go by, so it wasn’t until one zipped by at 7:06 am that we knew school was a go and the power outage was local.

My daughter came down, my still sleepy-eyed and bed-headed in-a-few-hours-a-kindergartener little girl, and wrapped herself up in my bathrobe. I thought I was ready to let go and send her off today, but at that very moment, when I realized those kinds of snuggles won’t be happening much after 8:15, well, what can I say. I squeezed tight.

I woke up my son who followed me down stairs, in hand his new Nike skate shoes still in the box, his clothes in a neat pile, all picked out. But he was bummed out. Not that it was the first day of school, or anything. But no power meant he couldn’t have his Toaster Struedel for breakfast. Now THAT sucks.

We made do with boiled water on the Coleman propane stove — we are now pros from Irene’s four-day power outage. A little oatmeal, some hot cocoa and my son was in better spirits.

I made the lunches quick as I could without opening the fridge for too long. They were done and we were ready to head out the door. My son looked handsome in his chosen digs and my daughter, well she was just happy to have her Skechers Twinkle Toes light up sneakers. We were happy, too. They added a little light to our dark morning.

We headed to our driveway and took some photos, and waited for the bus in the intermittent drizzle. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, at 8:20 we kind of thought the bus might not actually come and, since school is supposed to start at 8:25, we drove them.

They were reluctant passengers.

And I was a reluctant mom. 

It’s not fair that I don’t get to see my kindergartener get on that big yellow bus as she begins her school career. We had that milestone with our son and I remember clearly what he was wearing and how he waved and his bus driver’s name and me bawling my eyes out in the driveway as I waved after him.

But now because of some bus snafu, we had to drive them today.

And when we got school at 8:24, my son jumped out and waved and then my daughter was whisked away by a staff someone who walked her into her new school. No looking back. No kiss. No tears. No nothing! It happened too fast and I was left in the drop off circle with my husband shaking my head and feeling gipped. NOT FAIR!

Tomorrow is another day. I’ll store up my tears until then when I can see her wave to me from that yellow bus. Until the moment I see her sitting next to her big handsome fourth grade brother on the bus –who we made swear that he’d protect his baby sister from any and all bad things that could be said/done/thought by other kids on that short bus ride around the corner to school.

Tomorrow I’ll cry.

Happy First Day of School.


I’m Old Enough Now

Today, we were running late. Again.

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. 

Thank goodness.

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.

Just a little.