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The first day

My four-year-old son wanted to wear his cowboy boots on his first day at his new school.

I said no, again, for reasons we’d already discussed. “You’re a bad mom,” he mumbled as he climbed into an empty box. His cowboy boots flew out of the box one at a time.

holdingThere wasn’t much to say to that, honestly. In Li’l D’s almost four weeks as a big brother, he’s been remarkably patient and sweet with two tired, grumpy parents who’d previously given him most their attention. He’s protective of his little brother anyway, practically growling at the pediatrician’s office as we drive by. “I won’t let them give him shots! I won’t!”

As we drove to his new school, I realized I was much more nervous than he.

He was enjoying a drive to school. I was thinking about Transitions-with-a-distinctly-capital-T. 

He was excited for a new opportunity. I was thinking about new opportunities past, and how he no longer has a name tag on a desk at his old school. 

He was pleased by the outfit he’d chosen for his first day, and that he got to bring his special lunchbox. I was nervous about how well he’d be accepted, though I’d already seen two current students play with him as if they were fast friends.

When we reached the school, I loaded up with lunchbox, spare outfit and emergency kit. He grabbed his coat. As we made our way up the walkway, I prepared for Li’l D to resist the school’s policy that farewells should be short and sweet.

Instead of resisting, he ran into his new classroom without any of his usual eighteen hugs and kisses. He didn’t even offer one! He emerged only briefly to ask, “Where do I put my coat?”

I nabbed one hug and one kiss, thinking about resilience as I signed him in and walked back to the car alone. His dad and I have talked about this a lot the last couple of weeks.

I wish Li’l D would never suffer pain, sorrow or unwanted isolation, but that’s not life. Life is a mix of joyous and hurtful moments. Rather than wasting too much energy wishing for the impossible, I am trying to focus on the wonder of his resilience.

The last four weeks, Li’l D’s shown:

He can be grumbled at and smile anyway.

He can be scolded and then stroke his baby brother’s hair, scolding quickly forgotten in favor of the current moment’s sweet potential.

He can be ignored as his brother fusses and–faulting no one–make his own entertainment.

This very moment, he’s knee-deep in his first day at his new school. I wish him the very best as I count the moments until I pick him up.

I know my wishing is superfluous. He’s resilient. He’ll sail through the highs and lows.

I wish I could do so quite so graciously.

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  1. April 28, 2014 at 11:10 am

    What a tough thing! New schools for my little one terrify me!
    You have me thinking about the fear–the fear of her being hurt–is almost too much to bear. I think, underneath that fear, isn’t that she’ll get bruised or scratched, but that she’ll be much more deeply wounded by someone else’s insecurity. I so fear the day she comes home balling because someone has so demoralized her, or worse, to not know it. That one day we’ll wake up to discover that some idiot teacher or careless parent with a throw-away comment has shrunk her sense of vision and hope. Man, parenting is hard!

  2. April 28, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Your tweet quoting Daddy is priceless. “We don’t ask why. We just enjoy it.”
    On every level I wish you a great resilient week, one day at a time.

    [Grandson #1 is acclimating to Texas where boots are everywhere especially during rodeo season. He comes home from school not riding his bike, but his “beach cruiser.” I know. It’s another world. He likes his skechers.] This grandma is also, wishing, praying and hoping for great days at school.

  3. April 28, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Glad to hear he was eager to start his first day of school. I bet he’ll be excited to tell you all about it. It’s always difficult to see our kids venture out on their own and face new things–even when they’re teenagers (as I find with my own). But it’s by allowing them to navigate the waters on their own that they learn to become resilient. Life is one endless sea of changes. Good that they acquire these skills early.

    Hope the school’s a good fit for you all!

  4. April 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Ah, you and your family are piloting the very same river as my son and his family. I watch in amazement their sweet interactions, their grumpies and my eldest grandson and his happy dances through it all. I suspect yours might be the same.

    You are amazing, your resilience and your sweet bounces against his growing up.

  5. April 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Ah, but these are the amazing lessons we learn from watching our children. And then, if we are smart, we try to somewhat approach life with the same childlike grace, rolling with the ebb and flow because it makes letting go so much easier! XOXO-Kasey

  6. April 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Hey! Don’t be harder on yourself than anyone else! It sounds like you’re doing a super job 🙂 Let us know how he got on soon.

  7. April 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    LOL, Cowboy boots are the norm down here -even I wear them frequently! 🙂 But, such is life in Texas, it’s a bit different 🙂 I’m so glad that the drop off went well! What a great way to start the adventure!

  8. April 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I must disagree, Deb. You seem to “do so graciously.” I find such warmth and graciousness in your stories. I also must admit, I giggled at Li’lD’s comment, “You’re a bad mom.” I have been that bad mom too. And, just like you, mostly, I am a mom who gets enveloped in hugs and love.
    On a lighter, but less positive note- I sometimes found my children’s second day to be tougher than the first. I hope that’s NOT the case for you/Li’lD!
    Wishing the best for all of you….

  9. April 29, 2014 at 1:00 am

    “Rather than wasting too much energy wishing for the impossible, I am trying to focus on the wonder of his resilience” – i love this – no parent wants to witness their child enduring through any pain or discomfort, but that’s just not possible – so teaching them and focusing on the strength, resiliance, is so important. Hard, but important.

  10. April 29, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Good to read you again Deborah. Your young man is changing. I remember so much my young man used to change virtually overnight and what worked as a programme yesterday no longer applied.
    Yes even at four a lot of things are transporting in that little brain and he is very busy working through so much. He sounds like a beautiful boy.
    Glad to see you doing well.B

  11. G M Barlean
    April 29, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Just loved this post. The visual of Lil’ D in the box and the boots being tossed out one by one…priceless!

  12. April 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    What a big day—both for boy and mama. Isn’t it funny how firsts sometimes affect us more than they do our kids?

  13. April 30, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Sometimes, I wish my kids weren’t so resilient or independent or whatever the heck it is that they’re doing . . . there are times that they stick to my sides as if their life depended on it, and, of course, when that happens, I want them to be off on their own . . . but those times are growing far less than when they wave goodbye & are content . . . there are times that I feel extraneous in their lives…it makes me quite sad.

  14. May 1, 2014 at 7:45 am

    The problem with new is it means you have to say goodbye to old. It’s painful, isn’t it?

  15. May 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

    It’s going to take me a little while to get around to replying to individual comments. In the meantime, I wanted to thank you all for your encouragement. It means a lot, even if I can’t clarify that “a lot” just yet. ♥

  1. May 22, 2014 at 5:46 am
  2. May 27, 2014 at 12:58 pm

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