I started crying before we even made it through the double doors. It might have been the functionality of his school: the student monitors stationed around the circle drive, the teachers on walkie-talkies organizing drop-off, the parents swinging briskly through the car line as if the world weren’t ending. How did everyone else know what they were doing? Greg and I trudged up the front walk, our tiny baby son between us, very unready to let him go.
Toby was brilliant. None of the order and rush of the school bothered him. He said, “I’m so excited!” It felt strange. Three months ago he still cried when I dropped him at preschool. Today he was confident– a small, sweet, sparkly-eyed boy with his stuffed Dalmatian Samson peeking out of his backpack. He held my hand and for the first time, I knew he was doing it for my sake and not his own.
All of the kids and parents had to wait in the gym before the bell rang. I fake-smiled at the other moms, though I really wanted to watch the whole scene from a private room where I could noisy cry by myself. All I could think about was Toby’s new cargo shorts and how much he looked like Greg in them. “Don’t help me pull up my shorts,” he said while getting dressed this morning. “You have to do it yourself when you are in Kindergarten.” And he could.
He could also walk into his classroom without clinging to my shin, hang up his Lightning McQueen backpack on the hook labeled “Toby,” and find his own friends to sit with at a table. And all of that, though I’ve been working toward those goals for five years, made me inconsolably sad.
I didn’t want him to howl and lock his arms around my neck when it was time for me to go, but his total competence shattered the view I have of him, that pink-cheeked newborn swaddled up like a pea pod. I’m excited that he is growing into the man I always wanted him to be. He is everything I hoped for him and more. It’s just happening so much faster than I thought it would.
But I’m so proud of him. My dear sweet baby boy.