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.
There 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.