And I’m Just Dreaming

Today was my son’s last day of kindergarten.

I didn’t get to take his picture, but his Dad took it and sent it to me. I’m lucky that we have an amicable relationship such that we will send each other pictures like this. I sent him the ones I took the first day, so quid pro quo. We texted each other a few days ago in a quest to try to find the outfit D wore on his first day, but could only find the shirt. That’s how it is in the two-home shuffle I guess, and the rumpled orange shorts he insisted on wearing back then are in the wind somewhere.

“I’m nervous,” he said when I took his picture in the kitchen on the first day, after I asked him if he was excited. And yes I cried and cried, and didn’t even attempt not to as I went whuffling down the hall after dropping him off at the extended care room, my face running like a mask in a horror film. I remember seeing the custodians that morning and hoping they were nice men, kind men who would help look out for my son. They see and know everything at schools, you know, Carl in the Breakfast Club was right.

I’ve since learned each of their names (and the female custodian as well), as I see at least one of them every morning that I drop D off, and we got to know each other better when I hosted the dinners for the teachers on parent-teacher conference nights. I always made sure to track them down in the building and make sure they came and got some food, and the office staff too, once the teachers had gone through the line. You have to take care of support people. It’s the right thing to do, and you never know when you need someone like that on your side.

When I went to first grade orientation (for parents) a couple of weeks ago, I walked down the isolated hallway where D’s kindergarten is. There are only a couple of classrooms back in the corner where his room is. Was. The first week, I had a mixture of relief that they were so close to an out of the way side door in case they needed to make a hasty exit for emergency reasons, including the looming active shooter that haunts all parents of school children nowadays, and also fearful for the back hallway’s isolation and proximity to the door, as it could also be a way in, as easily as a way out.

The teacher always lines the hallway with the kids’ artwork, particularly stuff where they had to write down the answer to a question or draw a picture of something in particular. I can always pick out my son’s work even when the names are on the back instead of the front, and I smiled and had tears running down my face at how precious it was, and knowing how close we were to the end of this part of the journey. My boy is growing up. His classroom was so sweet and cute, it warmed my  heart going in there.

It’s been such a hard year for him. And knowing this is as easy at it gets and that it only gets harder from here, it’s tough. Camp starts in a couple of weeks. Before that, we have a whole week together where we’re going to be off work/school together. I’m trying to put together some fun things to do that won’t cost much, including a lot of gasoline, as pay day is a loooong way away and his party on the 30th pretty well cleaned me out until the 15th. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can go to the lake or to the pool. We’ll get some movies and books from the library. I probably have enough stuff around for us to make cookies. But I’m going to have to go to the grocery, there’s just nothing for him to eat. Me, I can stand to cut back a little, have put on three of the pounds I’ve lost. Time to get that scale moving down again, as I have many more to lose.

I was restless all day. I felt like I couldn’t sit in my chair at work, and like I didn’t belong anywhere. I had a good networking meeting after my work day was over, but still felt restless. As it was National Running Day, I decided to go out for a run, even though I just went on Sunday, and am doing a 5K on Saturday morning. I know I said I wanted to run more often, to get up to twice or three times a week, but perhaps increasing the frequency on race week was not wise. I guess I’ll find out Saturday morning.

He won’t let me comb his hair nicely anymore. He knows how he likes it and will mess it back up if I try to make it tidy. He decided several months ago that he would distinguish himself every day by purposely wearing mismatched socks. I think he thought I would be mad about it, but I support this sock thing and loved that on the day of his birthday party, he wore one white ankle-length sock and on the other leg, a knee-high, orange-and-blue striped sock. It reminded me of when I was in high school, and used to wear two different colors of Chuck Taylors every day. You go, kid.

I bought a yearbook and saw that he is pictured in the candids, standing sheepishly next to the girl he has a crush on. There the two of them are, memorialized forever. So adorable.

I felt his teacher crying this afternoon. She and I have exchanged some messages in recent days and she’s a really sweet lady and I know she really loves D, and her other kids too, and how hard it is for her to see this particular group move on. I was just suddenly struck with the feeling of her sadness, looked at the clock and realized the school day was ending. I think I will try to give her one of D’s school pictures each year.

My arms and heart are empty of those bones tonight. I miss him, period. I hope to capture this rapidly swelling sadness and harness it for the 5K Saturday morning.

I’m the parent of an almost-first grader. Wow.

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