My son recently started kindergarten.
This is a pretty awesome event, mostly because I can take random photos of him and his wee backpack to play at his wedding some years down the road. I'm a total sucker for a good montage and he knows it. I only hope his bride-to-be can handle the awesome montage I put together.
Anyway, I digress.
The kid started school, which appears to last about 45 minutes, which does NOT jive well with my memories of school lasting 45 million hours, but then again, I wasn't picking myself up and transporting myself somewhere else.
Which is what I do. Every day.
And honestly, I don't mind it. I work from home, which means that my dimply white butt remains firmly planted on my desk chair, barely getting up to eat lunch or do other frivolous things like "load the dishwasher" or "take a pee in private." Without having to get off my butt, I'd not remember to take some very much needed time out-of-doors and away from the computer.
We're good, my son and I, as we walk hand-in-hand to the car, which I've parked a good distance away, knowing that walk is always good for stretching mah muscles and talking to my kid a bit about his day. We chatter on until we reach the car, where I hand him his snack and get ready to take him back to preschool to finish out his school day with his sister and the other children.
For the fifteen minutes we drive, we're fine. Jamming to tunes, rocking the suburbs, we do it all.
And then, once we pull into the preschool's driveway, the same woman who's been teaching him since he was a wee tot, and the place where his younger sister - and lunch! - is patiently waiting for him. That's when the troubles begin.
First, he grabs onto my arm like it's the one thing saving him from drowning, tears welling in his bright eyes. "Mommy," he drags out into at least five seconds.
Patiently, I lean down and kiss his snack-covered face, hugging him in his car seat, his spindly arms wrapped awkwardly around me. "Mama, can I please come home with you?"
My heart sinks a little bit. He can't - I have to work and he has the energy of, well, a 5-year old, and I'm almost entirely certain the meetings I have lined up won't be thrilled about a kindergartner making fart jokes in the background.
(OR MAYBE THEY WOULD)
So I tell him what I've rehearsed a thousand times, a sentence that barely makes sense, as I'm barely able to say goodbye to a houseplant without mourning it. I once tried to sit Shiva for a broken ice maker, but I'm not Jewish and it didn't help even a little.
"J," I start, "Remember: We say goodbye so we can say hello again."
"Don't say that," he sputters. "IT MAKES IT WORSE."
I nod, because I get it. With all the changes going on in my home, knowing that I'll be able to "say hello again" after I "say goodbye to the life I've built," is about as comforting as hugging a cactus.
Hand-in-hand we walk up the front steps, both of us pretending we are NOT sniffling, then through the front door. A gaggle of Alex's friends and classmates meet us there and suddenly I'm surrounded by tiny people who like me to hug them. I hug each of them individually while Alex clings to my leg, my daughter to my butt. It's like a gigantic group hug.
Except at the end, the other kids - including my daughter - scamper off and pick something to play with while I'm mired in place, Alex's 60 pounds keeping me right where he wants me.
"Alex," the teacher says. "I've got a Batman cape for you to wear today!"
His face breaks into a smile and he dashes over to get Bat-suited up while I prepare to leave. "I'll see you later," I call over the din of tiny superheroes.
I walk out and down the steps, my hand now vacant, wishing that I, too, had a Batman cape to make me feel a bit better.