A No Good Terrible Morning

First day at a new school. First bus ride ever. We had been prepping for this day for awhile. Slowly building up in frequency the discussions on his next step as the days neared.

He was scared.

And didn’t want to go.

That much was clear as he reiterated his desire to stay at the guardaria he had been attending for the last two years. Small and familiar with the faces he knew and trusted.

And I feel him so hard about it all that it breaks my heart.

I’ve been there before. New and frightening experiences that we all need to conquer to gain confidence and a strong sense of self. The assuredness of overcoming challenges and the competencies and joys it brings us.

But that beginning part where you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing still sucks.

We talked about being a big boy. I relayed stories of his other friends we had seen come and go at Huellitas. How cool Pachamama would be with it’s giant sandbox and collection of dump trucks. The rock climbing wall. The tool shed. We bought a new backpack. Superheroes. Something mom is not the biggest fan of, but relented on with the understanding that this type of bag is for big kids. Ones that can handle the responsibility of being exposed to violence that is pretend and know the difference between the observed behavior and behavior in real life.

He was ecstatic.

Even so – there were tears.

I regretted immediately we hadn’t decided to drive him as the bus pulled up. Convinced into it by my husband, who said it would be better. But apprehensive about it up until late last night. When at that point, nothing could be done. Transportation would be there at 7 sharp.

I felt the pressure to get him moving, while at the same time desperately wanting to give him the time and attention he deserved.

My husband frantically waving candy pulled from his pocket as Darwin retreated into the yard.

Ugh. This is not what I pictured.

Mama, please. He calls softly from the seat, chin trembling. I want to grab him and tell him he doesn’t have to go. Snuggle up next to him in bed with a book. Say we’ll try it again on Monday. But I have to stay strong. Let him know it’s okay. So I give him a little wave as the door shuts.

Heart pounding.

After rehashing to a dead horse what should have been done differently with my husband. What will be done differently next time. I feel relief. A game plan. So that when my son comes home from school he will have the composed mom, who knows what she’s doing. The one who can absorb all his feelings about the day with room to spare.

I think to the future.

Only a couple months away from a new baby. And I realize a tearful send off for the first day of school is only the beginning of those life experiences that will bring inexplicably sad feelings at the start. The potential happiness that will one day result from it unfathomable in the present moment. Things that he will have to figure out for himself that will hurt, even with our unconditional support. Like how it feels to go from the one and only child to a big brother. Feelings that I can’t protect him from. That I shouldn’t protect him from. That I need to let him feel in his own way so that he can learn how to handle life.

Lost in thought, I check my phone.

The school has called and panic strikes.

It’s nothing.

They just want to confirm transport home.

Don’t worry yourself, she repeats more than once. He’s doing great.

Of course, he is.

He always does.

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