Monday was his first day of school.
He has been at home with me for a whole year. My sidekick, the two of us were barely apart during these months. I made him the same breakfast each morning, and after we took his sister and brother to school, we found ways to pass the day until we picked them up in the afternoons.
We went on epic park crawls where we would visit four or five different city parks in a day. He pushed me to do things that I thought I was too old for or too scared to try. I took him to doctors’ appointments, the library, the wildlife reserve and the river.
We spent many hours just swinging side by side, usually playing Eye Spy. Some mornings we went to the zoo right when it opened to get snow cones and ride the train. We played Legos and dinosaurs at home, and got in the habit of taking naps together in my bed, holding hands the whole time.
I have been dreading the end of these days spent one-on-one with him. I had planned for more than we actually got, but because his little sister and brother needed to stay home in order to keep her well these last few weeks, we spent most of our remaining time refereeing the younger two and playing in our own backyard.
Still, I was actively trying to savor every minute of the last of this era before he grew up and decided that he wouldn’t want me around.
On Sunday morning, his final day before becoming a kindergartner, he told me three times that he didn’t need me anymore.
Each time it stung, but I tried to act like it didn’t. I told him that it was ok, and I walked away to do something else, leaving him with whatever it was that he thought he was now old enough to do on his own. And, he was right. He didn’t need me anymore. He could do it without me.
My husband took him to school on his first day. I couldn’t do it. I was afraid that I would be too nervous and it would take hold of him too. He was excited and ready – he didn’t need me there to weigh him with caution. His dad could keep it light, where I would just bring things down.
I found plenty of things to do while he was gone – the little kids were at home with me, after all – but I did spend most of the day looking at the clock, counting down until I could go get in the car rider line.
He was enthusiastic but tired when I picked him up. I could tell he had had a big day and didn’t need me pelting him with questions. I passed him a chocolate chip cookie and some milk and tried really hard to bite my tongue and just listen while he told me about what he had learned.
Once at home, the kids went off to their own worlds to play, and I unloaded his backpack. There was a drawing tucked into the special red folder.
The printed color sheet prompted for his favorite things so that his teachers and friends could get to know him better. I saw a dinosaur for his favorite animal, the chocolate chip cookie in both the spot for his favorite food and overall favorite thing and a mad face in the box that asked for his dislikes.
In the space marked “My Family” I could see that he had drawn two figures. I assumed that it was him and his dad – the fun one who can do no wrong – and put the paper on the kitchen counter for my husband to see.
While I was cleaning up the kitchen after supper, I heard, “Sorry that I didn’t have time to draw your eyes and mouth there. I had to stop because it was time to go outside.”
“Huh?” I said as I saw my kindergartener looking at his favorite things drawing from school.
“My favorite family here on this coloring page. This first one is me and that other one is you, Mommy. It’s me and you,” he said as turned on his heel to go find his dad.
For email delivery of Typically not Typical, sign up here: