“Can I undo it after the news is over?” he asked. My hands were sticky with molding paste as I mussed up his generally unfussed-over head.
“Sure. It’s your hair.” I told him, knowing that he meant he was only letting me do his do for my own satisfaction. He made some sort of alien-like noise… the kind I’ve grown used to over the school year. The kind that I am certain is some sort of secret language of Kindergarteners. I continued to look at him in the mirror. Continued to weave my fingers in and out of his locks. He was squinting his eyes tight as he does on the few occasions that he allows me to touch his hair these days. And I just wanted to cry.
I don’t really know why I wanted to cry. I just felt it behind my eyes. The welling. The sort of warm feeling. And I removed my hands. Kissed him atop his head. And good gamed him as he ran to get his Lego creation.
We walked into the school together. It was his day for the News. He was so proud of his talent that he’d be sharing.. building Legos. His hair, mom-messed. Gym shorts. Big boy t-shirt with I could play all day scribed across. Tall brightly colored socks. Newly acquired kicks. And his watch. Oh, how I adored him in that moment. And I admired this bigger boy who had grown inside of his skin over the year. He led us to the library and found the News place. He was so independent in the building where he spends most of his days. He knew the lay of the land. He walked briskly with his Legos and his watch and I felt it again. A pang. The choking back of tears. What is wrong with me? I thought. And I told the tears this wasn’t the time or the place. And instead, I smiled. A wide toothy smile. For myself. Because I knew the tears wanted to shed, not for joy or for sadness, but for the passing of that very moment we were living in right there. Right then. I wanted to go find every clock in existence and halt the universe. Dismantle time. Make us all stay right where we are at this stage of the game.
I wanted for it not to be almost at the end of his Kindergarten year. I wanted for Kindergarten to go on forever.
There’s something about it. About Kindergarten. About the innocence of that first year of school. The time where the kids start out a little nervous. A little timid. And then, as each day passes, they grow into these people. In a way that you didn’t know would happen. He was the kid who cried at Kindergarten roundup. Almost the entire time. I was the mom who cried after I left him crying. He was the kid who wanted me to walk him to the corner and across the crosswalk. And never wanted to let go of my hand. I was the mom who was terrified about the process of drop-off and pick-up. He was the kid who was nervous about taking his lunch and not taking his lunch. And about being a friend to everyone. I was the mom who was worried he wouldn’t know how to get lunch or he wouldn’t eat what I sent. And that the kids wouldn’t see him for everything that I see.
It was a big step. Handing him over to other hands. For more of life than we had before. There was something about the first going off to school that made me cling. Clinching to the loss of an easy time. A time where vacation schedules or park dates or lunches with dad were on our own accord. A time where his very favorite girl face was mine. And a time where he didn’t have worksheets and projects and things to memorize. Walking him into school on his first day paused my world… which is nearly impossible in these busy times… as I realized how fast the earth is moving around the sun in this life. And how each of them are only the age they are for the very current present. And then day after day, we move forward from here. Him going to school felt like hands shaking my shoulders and screaming, THE FIRST FIVE YEARS HAPPEN IN A SECOND. And his were already through. And though we will go through it three times over, him starting Kindergarten called attention to the brevity of it all. And served as a reminder to savor.
Because Kindergarten is for savoring.
Kindergarten allows a bit for parental ignorance to all of the processes and the procedures and the deadlines and the stuff. It allows for watching, a bit in awe, at the way teachers can truly touch students every. single. day. It allows for the once again reminder at what a complete sponge the childhood brain is. And made everything seem exciting and new and fresh. And sometimes scary.
But even scarier, is first grade. Because then. Then comes second. And third. And before we know it, Junior High. And on and on. It all feels too real. Too too real.
So I don’t want Kindergarten to end. I want the time where everyone is friends to stay. I want the free time to build Legos and play ninjas and color to not morph into practices and obligations every night of every week. I want for him to not have to move passed the stage where everyone is still sort of good at everything so differences don’t yet determine friends and social circles. I want him to love reading, and numbers, and music, and art, and PE just because it’s a part of something he loves… school. I want him to come in every day after he gets home as excited about his day as he is now. Sharing stories about lunches, recess, Tickets, and moments. I want him to always want me to lay my head next to his on his pillow at night and tell him a story and ask me question after question about the Deep Sea and the earth and the way animals live. I want to be in Kindergarten forever.
If everything we ever need to know in life is learned in our very first year of school, why must we ever move past it?
Because it just gets more awesome. That’s why, right? That’s what I’m told. That each year. Each phase. Each age. Brings different gifts and different adventures. And that when all is said and done, when they walk across the stage at their high school graduation, that I will look at him and have a fondness for every single stage. For every bit of him that he’ll grow to become. And when I think of it like that, instead of scared, I feel excited. And, dare I even use the word, blessed. Blessed to know this little man. And to be along on this ride with him.