The day has come at last, the day I have been envisioning for at least four years, the day that my youngest child enters kindergarten.
My eyes watered and my heart tugged as he walked away past the bus parking area where parents were not permitted to go. His sister walked beside him and instructed him encouragingly so as to remove any hesitation or doubt from his body. He didn’t turn around and wave goodbye once they had gotten going. It would have been difficult anyway to swing around quickly and maintain his balance with the overstuffed backpack he had strapped to his body and the large brown paper bag he held with two hands would have made it impossible for him to wave back anyways. But I knew he was nervous, I knew he must have been as scared as I was as he headed off into the channeling morass of children that were making their way toward the harrowing halls of public education. Just last night he reported to me that he didn’t actually want to go to school, when I asked him why he said it was because he was feeling too shy. But when it came down to it he never wavered, he didn’t shed a tear. I assumed his heart was beating as fast as mine in the moments before he walked into those broad shiny hallways amidst the bustling shoulders and arms. He was tired of course, he had stayed up too late in bed with all his nervous excitement, as had all of my kids. Even the teachers were probably exhausted from anticipation for this day.
I wasn’t the only one nervous about my youngest son entering kindergarten. My oldest son stayed up worrying whether his little brother would say something crazy to his teacher, like something inappropriate he had learned from a rap song. He worried that his little brother might say, “It doesn’t care,” instead of “It doesn’t matter” as he was wont to do as of late. On top of being grammatically incorrect that was just rude. I assured him that his little brother would be just fine, that he probably would be so shy and scared of his teacher that he wouldn’t say anything at all to her unless asked a question directly. So then my older son worried about that, he hoped Adrian wouldn’t be so shy so that all the kids would think he was some kind of weird freakazoid and he wouldn’t make any friends. I told Aurelio that he should probably just focus on his own fears instead of Adrian’s but that may have been the wrong advice – he stayed up until nearly midnight doing just that.
My biggest fear is that Adrian will just feel so overwhelmed by the entire public school experience that he will just break down and cry. That’s what pulls at my heart when I look over toward the brick façade of the school and I am hoping more than all else that he is not feeling lonely or scared in there.
He did not seem big enough for the place as he walked away from my wife and I. We stayed there awhile staring at the sidewalk where they once were until we realized that our kids had gone ahead and gone inside the school. They were on to their next adventure. The summer was officially over.
The elephant in the room is what will I do with myself now? We’ll see. For today I can soak in nostalgia for the summer that has just passed and even more than that, the era that has passed for this family of five with three little kids that have gone from being little children to being little girls and boys. I need at least one day to transition and just sip my coffee and contemplate the fleeting nature of life. All those days I carried Adrian in a stroller or in my arms to pick up his older brother and sister at school, all those afternoons we spent together poking around discovering new places to play and explore, all those errands we ran around doing, all the grocery store clerks he elicited smiles from with that dimpled smile of his… my little boy is growing up. Today, it’s official.