In the car as we pulled up to school, to first grade today, I swallowed my tears as I turned to look at G, unbuckling his seat belt in the backseat.
“I had a great time with you this summer.”
He saw his friend up the street. “CHASE!” He was already opening the car door. “CHASE!” Chase turned and waved, continuing to walk. We crossed the street, holding hands, seeing the familiar faces that were absent the last two months. “I”m gonna catch up to him”, he said already in a jog.
I said hello to several families as I sprinted up the sidewalk, trying to catch up so I could watch him walk into school for the first time this year.
As we headed to the handball courts to find out his classroom, more and more kids showed up. G was saying hello to them, anxious to get it all started. He had shot out of bed this morning proclaiming, “FIRST GRADE!” He had gotten dressed, eaten, brushed his teeth, graciously sat through pictures, reminded me to pack his snack. And now he was here, beginning again.
He got in the line for his class, noting the unusually large number of girls compared to boys (which probably makes him very, secretly happy). He was excited about his amazing teacher, who happens to be a close friend and who I am over the moon about. I saw more and more parents, gave more and more hugs, and could not stop sweating. It’s hot here, and I had run after Garrett, and I am not kidding about the sweat. I kept apologizing for my disgustingness as the sweat kept pouring. But G? Cool as a cucumber. I was the picture of nerves. He was the opposite.
I asked what our “goodbye situation” was. Was I allowed to give him a kiss? I was not. But, as the line started moving he quickly hugged me and gave me a familiar signal, a private one, that I didn’t think I would get. And the smile. He is so ready for this.
As I watched him head to class, proud Oregon backpack on his shoulders, I noticed he was not glancing back. Not even a little. He was looking forward. Straight ahead. I didn’t follow to see him put away his things in his new closet. I wanted to, but I didn’t. He is teaching me always about who he is. And I am learning, always, about who I want to be, as his mom.
First day of school, first grade