It never occurred to me until this year when everywhere I turned I overheard adults having conversations about so-and-so starting 1st grade at blah-blah-blah, or how the first day of kindergarten was this Thursday or how such-and-such just started high school or left for Amherst. September not only marks a season of high excitement and nervousness for children across the nation who walk into new classrooms, sit next to new people, take home backpacks of new demands and wonder who will be their friends this year, but a season of testing and heart pangs for parents....
Does at least one person in every family leave school crying at least once in September? On Monday a friend called me crying after having left her 5 year old on the curb with her big backpack and tears in her eyes to find her own way to her classroom, on Tuesday a friend told me -- yes a grown man -- how he left school crying after watching a girl be repeatedly cold to his daughter on the playground as she stood dazed in the sea of new kids, and this morning it was my turn.
I did the whole morning wrong.
Silas woke up with a little cough: "I have a wiwwy (really) bad cough mama."
And a few minutes later, a pain in his arm.
Then a pain in his back.
Then one in his leg.
"I can't go to school."
Instead of tuning in to him, we all went out to breakfast. Where Ben and I had a lame argument. And Silas most likely absorbed that the tone of our breakfast was less than fun. When we were done, we had an awkward pocket of time before school started, so I took the kids to the nearby market where I'd been meaning to go to buy my favorite bread. I figured I would get a few things for his lunch and we'd go straight to school.
In the market Silas was cold, Silas's leg hurt, Silas didn't want to go to school. I got him a hard boiled egg, a yogurt, and a peach, and at the car, put them in a plastic bag I emptied, along with a restaurant mint from the center console. I had no string but found some Mardi Gras beads that I used to tied the bag closed. Voila! Special lunch! -OR- Voila! My-mom-is-taking-weird-care-of-me-today lunch. It depends how you look at it. I'm not sure how he did.
Anyway, we got to school and he did NOT want me to leave. He clung. He cried. He screamed. He begged. And I left. UGH -- LEAVING!
All I wished was that I could have redone the morning -- sat with him, read to him, reassured him more attentively than I had. And maybe even taken him to school late if he needed a little more time.
But I didn't, and so in the car, I cried a September cry and drove home.