This isn’t the first time these boots have seen the first day of Pre-K. Yes, it was just a few years ago the tan, slouch boots danced their way into the school building while the video camera rolled. My oldest daughter donned them as a new era dawned in our lives…the school years. See I know what these boots started. They marked the day that my baby started to become a little girl. And now, like a song on repeat, the cycle has started again with my second baby girl.
Albeit, in a much, much different beginning, but it’s started. This time those tan slouch boots didn’t skip, but rather quietly and bravely inched into the Pre-K classroom. Last time they paraded in on my oldest daughter’s feet with lots of bouncing , jumping, singing, and dancing. This time, my peanut wore them as she ventured into her classroom to immediately plop down next to her best friend. Yes, this is the day that laying in her underwear and wearing Nutella on her face take second place to the dinosaur song in music class. I don’t think school is the big bad wolf. I don’t even think it’s close. In fact, I think it’s happiness and rainbows and youth, and that’s so darn hard to accept as a parent. I don’t doubt the education or the care of my children, in fact I know it’s nothing less than top notch. However, it’s the first time I let go of my tight grip on those five little fingers since the day they appeared on Earth, so there’s some adjusting for mom.
It’s the time when I said, “You can do this!” and thought “But I can’t.” It’s sad, not because it’s some terrible thing, but because it’s some wonderful thing. It’s sad because she got in the car when I picked her up after her first day, and honestly answered, “No” when I asked, “Did you miss me?” It was only two and half hours, but I know. I know what happens in two and half hours at Pre-K. I know, because I’ve done this before, with these very boots. I’ve stuffed my heart in these little boots before and let them walk in the door to Pre-K. So, I know that by May, those boots will be too small, and that tiny piece of my heart will be smarter, bolder, and ready to take on the world. It was hard. It was hard to let go of her hand. I had flashbacks of cooking dinner with her in that baby carrier on my chest. Then I thought of that incredibly clingy monkey baby who gripped her feet so tight around my waist that it was easier to just carry her everywhere I went rather than put her down on her own. But I know that this time if I don’t let her go on her own, she’ll be monkey wrapped around me until it’s obnoxious.
I wasn’t the only one letting go of a hand that’s been there since the beginning. This little guy was letting go (well for two hours a day) of his his partner in crime, his candy stealer, his interpreter, his best friend.
So, I, make that we, let go of her hand. I pulled her close and squeezed her harder than I ever have. I slowly walked back to the car with her dad and her brother’s blonde curls blowing in the wind.
My husband got in his truck to go to work. Me and the boy started for the long two mile drive home, just the two of us. Tears streamed down my face as I looked at her empty car seat, just like when I dropped her sister off a few years ago. Then, out of nowhere, the sweet blonde behind me began shouting, demanding that I hold on to one of his feet while I drive. He insisted, “Hold my soot!” (That’s foot.) So, knowing that his cowboy boots will all too soon make their way through the doors of the school, I held his right foot all the way home. I continued to cry until he started shouting in his caveman voice about giants, and spiders, and monsters. Then I laughed out loud, but I didn’t dare let go of that foot. What on Earth will I do when I drive away and there’s no high maintenance “giant” begging for my attention in the back? What will I do when I finally drive off in a completely empty car? The better question is what on Earth will *they* do with the opportunity ahead of them? It’s hard to swallow, but preschool rocks.
(The First Day of Pre-K for my oldest is posted here: http://sheradeehurst.com/2011/08/22/pre-k-go-away/ )