Monday, September 11, 2006

Cracks In My Armour

This is so weird. I ran an errand this morning to Home Depot (I'm re-wiring a hanging light all by myself!) and I had to do a double-take when I glanced in the backseat and didn't see Nicholas. I'm not used to him being gone in the mornings yet. The usual chatter he provides from the backseat was missing. And I realized I sort of missed it. I missed him. We do some of our best talking in the car.

I've not been very emotional - other than happy - about his starting school this year. I've said before that this is something I've wanted for him. I'm not usually very nostalgic about my kids growing up and don't save every scribble they make for me. That's not my style. I've always enjoyed them getting older and beyond the infant/baby stage. But today? Today I felt twinges of my heartstrings being pulled.

Nicholas rode the bus to school this morning. All by himself. He was so brave and chipper about it. Excited is how I would describe him at the notion of riding the school bus. It's what the Big Kids do, after all. Last week we successfully navigated coming home on the bus (yes, I oversaw him being put on the right bus and drove behind the bus, ensuring his safety from my Volvo not-so-discreetly following close behind the Big Yellow Behemouth) and was there waiting for him at the bus-stop when he came skipping off the bus, all 4 of his fellow Kindergarteners waving at him from the windows. But today was the first day riding the bus to school. And like before, I followed the bus. I'm a geek like that.

You see, coming home on the bus mid-morning is just for kindergarteners (he's home by 11am). There is a very specific protocol of checking the kids off as the get on the bus so the driver and teacher know exactly which kid is on the bus that day. They get dropped off in front of each of their houses. But going to school? That's a crazy, chaotic scene when the busses arrive. I wanted to be sure he'd be ok getting off the bus with all the Big Kids milling around and know where to go without getting lost.

Mission Accomplished.

I parked in a mad flurry after following the bus into the school lot so I could catch him as he got off the bus. I was a minute too late. I saw him happily skipping along towards the front door of the school with 3 of his new buddies with him, cheerful and un-worried as could be. They looked so small in the sea of Big Kids. I told him to pretend that I wasn't there so I could see if he knew where to go and what to do, and I was there "just in case." He did. Plus more.

My son is a Casanova in the making, it seems. He was walking ahead of me towards his classroom with a girl from his bus, Isobel, and he's already told me he thinks she's pretty. Today, he made his move: he asked her if she wanted to hold hands with him. Right in front of me. She did (hussy!) (of course, last week he and his friend Trevor were holding hands on the bus, so he's equal-opportunity that way.) And THAT'S when it hit me: he's not a baby anymore and these school years are going to fly by. He's doing exactly what I wanted him to do: exhibiting independence and showing responsibility. And that makes me glad. It does. But it's also highlighting that he's growing up and won't always need me to drive the car behind the bus to make sure he's ok. My heart lurched in my chest just a little at the realization. And then to notice his absence from the car so keenly just reinforced the feelings of happiness mixed with a dash of bittersweet.

This is definitely a time of transition. For both of us.

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