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first day of school

September 16, 2011

I dropped off Little Friend at college today.  For eons, I’ve watched with dread as this inevitable day approached, and now it’s finally here.  She’s up and left my life for an existence entirely of her own creating.  She’s gone.

This is what my heart cried as I stood by her Preschool door.

This is also the reason I need to see a therapist.  I’m dropping my child off for her one-day-a-week Preschool class where the most challenging thing they learn is that apples are red, and I can’t stop my brain from fast-forwarding to a day in the misty future when I will leave her, and instructions on laundry, and extra-long twin sheets, and Thumkin (because I really can’t imagine her without Thumkin) at a dorm room that oozes stale essence of locker room.

My heart’s bracing for the lacerations that will occur in the future.   The bruises it feels today are warning throbs.

In my defense, I did manage to choke back the tears in front of the teachers who were shooing lingering parents out the door, but when I arrived home, the lonely chalkboard tossed higgledy-piggledy on the porch bench did me in.  A crucial piece of the picture of my daily life is clearly missing.  She’s off someplace with ten other tots, probably still rocking in the pink rocking chair she claimed as she rushed into the room purposefully (no backward glance or leg-cling with this child) or learning about the incarnadine nature of apples.

If anyone calls in the next few minutes, I will have to lie through my teeth and sniffling nose: I have a cold.  Or, would you believe I just dropped my daughter off at college?

This morning my college-bound two-and-a-half year old flew out of bed in her frog-printed footed pjs.  She chanted Humpty Dumpty, while her first-day-of-school breakfast of Humpty Dumpty eggs-in-toast was lovingly prepared by her daddy.  My face must already have looked bereft to her as she nabbed bites of eggs.  “Here, Mama.  This will cheer you up!” she says as she hops and twirls around the room, green fork with half a bite of toast speared on the end.  Her dance recital does earn a wan smile.

She obliges me in a first-day-of-school photo shoot.

 

 

Her chalkboard was once a slate in my grandmother’s one-room school house.  Mothers care about things like this.  Little Friend just liked mugging for my adoring lens.

I was happy to linger on the porch with my trigger-happy finger.  Someone else had other ideas.  Once in the stroller to hike to Toddler University, Little Friend lost her tolerance for my cataloguing of this milestone event.  “No Mama,” she whined, “No more taking pictures.  I want to go noooooowwwww!!!”

If I can survive the next two hours and four minutes (not that I’m watching the clock or anything) until she bursts back through that Preschool classroom door and into my empty arms, perhaps I can consider a longer stretch of separation.  Say a college semester.

Then again, I hear they’re always looking for dorm moms, right?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna Guerard permalink
    September 16, 2011 1:40 pm

    Beth,

    So sweet! You will survive. Each day gets better.

    Think of all the chores you can accomplished in three hours.

    God bless.

  2. September 16, 2011 1:50 pm

    Love the pics. And it never gets any better. As my now 4-year old gets on the bus every day (he’s been in childcare or preschool for 2 years now!), I kiss him and tell him I love him. Then we wave goodbye about 11 times. And we blow kisses. And we wave again. And as the bus drives away, I wonder how long it will be before he waves only once. Or not at all. My heart breaks a little. God, I love that kid. LOVE. THAT. KID.

  3. September 16, 2011 2:44 pm

    Sometimes you would just love to “freeze the moment”…… thank God for photos. Perhaps it is time for a little brother or sister? Belle is so lucky to have such wonderful parents, and grandparents. God Bless you all and thanks for sharing… Bobbi

  4. September 16, 2011 3:10 pm

    Now you know why that funny look on my face when YOU left for pre-school, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, wedding, etc.!! It’s that (to quote Johanna at 3 years entering surgery) “I be brave but I not happy” look. Ah-the unsung heroism of brave mothers. I am proud of you.

  5. Kara permalink
    September 16, 2011 8:05 pm

    i remember when you were this little! It happens so fast!

    love the pix!

  6. Nancy permalink
    September 16, 2011 9:56 pm

    Another precious milestone recorded and remembered. Leaving is hard because you care so much. Never stop caring and giving your all. She will blossom in preschool just as she continues to blossom under your love and care. I know you researched and picked a great school for her so no worries there. Enjoy the first flights of your little one. She has strong roots and will always fly back to you.

  7. September 16, 2011 10:08 pm

    The first-day-of-school picture ritual will get ingrained in her. Case in point; Melissa, age 25, just started the first semester of her masters program in Miami where she lives with her law school husband. To make Mom and Dad feel better, she took a first-day-of -school picture of herself and emailed to us. The tradition lives.

  8. CindyWaldrop permalink
    September 17, 2011 8:30 am

    I had both – the runner & the clinger. Both tore new places inside. Both still do. I don’t know if it gets any better in those deep inside places.
    Lifting you up.

    All thru Him,
    Cin

  9. September 21, 2011 6:02 am

    Kids are so cool really! These pics are very cute. Looks like you have a very willing test subject in front of the lens there. We’ve just embarked on the preschool tears ourselves. “Hard” is not an appropriate enough word!

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