...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

one small step...

Ever since his first day of kindergarten, my youngest son and I have walked the short distance from our front door to the corner of our quiet cul-de-sac to wait for the school bus to pick him up. It's a simple routine, often encompassing the few moments in each day that I get to spend purely alone with my child. There are days when I find the process to be more a burden than a treat, but as a whole, I look forward to our launches.

Every day at exactly 8:16 a.m., we run through a final checklist of his academic requirements - Water bottle? Check! Homework folder? Check! Snack? Check! - and then set out on our way. It's a ritual borne out of my parental need to feel like my son is safe at the corner for those few minutes before the noisy yellow bus groans to a stop and he passes through its gaping maw and into the noisy belly of the beast. I do not wish to believe anything horrifying could happen to my child, but I do know I could never get to him fast enough if I were standing at Point A while he was at Point B.

Out of this parental need has sprung joy. I've mentioned many times before that our daily walk is something so much more than just a quiet stroll. We sing songs. We announce our arrival at the corner by jumping on the large rock nested in the neighbor's yard and bowing before our royal subjects, which are the birds and whichever one of us is left standing because they didn't make it to the rock first. Before we've reached the end of our driveway, my son will be chattering away about his plans for recess or the latest book he selected at the library, and while I listen, I'll fan the fingers of my left hand and he'll quietly, instinctively, twist the fingers of his right around them. As he chatters or we sing and we walk, my son, now almost nearing the end of second grade, will forget he's outgrowing his need to hold my hand, and I'll respond to his questions while thinking I must not blow my chances at being able to repeat this next day by smothering him in goodbye kisses when we reach the corner.

Perhaps his willingness to still hold my hand during this routine is purely his way of thanking me for never embarrassing him in front of his fellow bus riders with overwhelming displays of public affection! If so, I accept his deal.

So, as you might imagine, today started out like every other school day. At 8:16 a.m., I began ticking off the items on his list, he made a last minute stop to the bathroom, checked to ensure the episode of Bakugan he was watching would be recorded for him to watch later, and we were out the door. At the end of the driveway, while we talked about the slight chill in the air, I fanned the fingers of my left hand out and waited for him to twist the fingers of his right around them, and just as it hit me that he wasn't taking my hand, my little boy dashed two houses ahead of me, then turned his head slightly to see if I was following.

"Do you want me to stay here and just watch you the rest of the way?" I asked quietly, hoping he wouldn't hear.

"Yes," he responded loudly.

I took a few more steps forward and he took a few bigger ones to counter me.

"If you don't want me to go down to the corner with you, I can go back to the driveway and just watch to make sure you make it OK," I said. I just needed to hear it again. To be punched a little bit harder in the parental heart one more time. Clearly, the independent swagger displayed by my second grader before I even finished asking indicated he'd be fine. He took off in a sprint to the corner, his camouflage backpack bouncing against the sweatshirt I made him put on before we left. He marked his arrival at Point B by jumping atop the neighbor's rock while I slowly turned around and moped back toward Point A.

When I heard the bus turn our corner and grind to a stop, I turned (for the 12th time on my short adventure) to wave goodbye to my son, and just before the doors swung shut and swallowed him whole, he turned back toward me, fanned open the fingers of his right hand, and quickly waved goodbye to me.

The first big goodbye of many.



Blogger Kat said...

*big lump in throat* They grow up too fast don't they!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:01:00 PM  
Anonymous MommyGeek said...

aww, stupid kids growing up. who the hell gave them permission?

and now I'm crying at work. WAY TO GO, kid. Way to go.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

I know how you feel. It all slips by too fast...my daughter pretty much stopped holding my hand last year. ::sobs::

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:06:00 PM  
Blogger Logical Libby said...

It's so strange. Right now my husband and I are so excited about the movement in our baby. It will kill us when she starts to move away.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:06:00 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

"A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys. . ."

For a month or so at the beginning of every school year, Jen used to stand on the front porch while the kids walked up the street to school, waving and yelling "BYE!" every few seconds, until they rounded the corner out of view. . .

Sometimes it can be really hard to sign off on the idea that we're raising our kids to be grownups someday. . .

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:19:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Gah - my heart! xoxo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:27:00 PM  
Anonymous TwoBusy said...

Love love love love love that. How bittersweet.

That was beautiful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 2:37:00 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

:( Mine are growing up too fast as well...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 3:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Right in the once-a-parental heart.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 5:09:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...


Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:22:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Hear that? That's the sound of mommies hearts breaking everywhere! Gosh that was sad!

Wait till they go off to college! I was sobbing so hard that my husband had to shove me into the van so we could leave!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:50:00 PM  
Blogger Sailor said...

yeah... and they don't listen when ya tell them to stop it and stay little. My youngest is almost 13!!!??!!! how the heck did that happen?

And each simple change in good-bye, is a loss.

The good part, of course, is that they add the next thing into their lives- oh, wait, that's just one more thing for me to worry about.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:07:00 PM  
Blogger msprimadonna67 said...

It's so hard to watch some of these milestones come to pass--and yet so wonderful as well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 8:53:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin McKeever said...

I felt the same thing the first time Thing 1 wouldn't kiss me goodbye when I dropped her off at school. Crushing, but beautifully expressed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry there will be a time when you have to pry him out of the house :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bekah said...


too much.

my heart cant handle it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

I couldn't find an email so I'm posting this here. I went with #8 ~ didn't make it in this month and there's always next month to give it another whirl.

These are the finalists if you want to see what I was up against and maybe vote for one you like!


Thanks for your help!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 4:48:00 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

Dang! I feel your pain. Yesterday, I washed all my son's bedding and put on the summer sheets. I also got a stuffed animal out of his closet and put it on his pillow so that I could pretend he was still my little guy again......*sniff.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 5:29:00 AM  
Blogger Homemaker Man said...


Thursday, April 22, 2010 6:54:00 AM  
Blogger lime said...

dangit, you've just made me remember those steps away from me that my boy took. it is a bittersweet thing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:05:00 AM  
Blogger Leandra said...

GAH! You're killing me over here because I can feel my first grade son slipping away bit by bit.

That was beautifully written, btw.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:36:00 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

ACK! You're breaking my heart. Nate goes to kindergarten next year... on the big boy bus. I'm already in knots about it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger the weirdgirl said...

OK, that sucks. But you know, boys... they'll always be our boys.
(She tells herself.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh - that's hard... I'm still far from there - but knowing it's right around the corner, I still carry my three year olds around like their little babies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Awwwww.... loved this description, but hate to have them grow up on us!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 4:58:00 PM  
Blogger MsPicketToYou said...

i love it when you make me cry.

now, stop making me cry.

big loving hugs to you mama.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous triciahonea said...

AWW that's makes me sad.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

*swallowing the lump in my throat*
Hugs, girl!

Friday, April 23, 2010 6:58:00 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Awwww...they do grow up, don't they?

I've been through this twice now. At least my kindergartner lets me walk him to the bus still!

Friday, April 23, 2010 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Dammit. You made my eyes do that funny leaking thing again. Ripped the parenting heart right out of my chest you did. Dammit. *sigh*

Friday, April 23, 2010 5:43:00 PM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

Mine are first grade and preschool. I'm guess this will be me next year... *SOB*

Saturday, April 24, 2010 8:30:00 AM  
Blogger anymommy said...

And now I'm crying. I want them to grow. I want them to stay little. I can't even stand it when someone else's kids grow.

Your writing is beautiful.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger CT Mom said...

Ugh. My heart aches. Another one bites the dust. I still have the luxury of end of the driveway pickup for 2 more years for my youngest. Then I will again be crying at 2 am the night before I let her go around the corner to get the bus. I've finally relaxed about her older sister. Sigh.

PS: Finally catching up on my reader and I saw your posts about the lump. Praying for you!

Sunday, April 25, 2010 9:17:00 AM  
Blogger justmakingourway said...

Damn, you made me cry at work. I loved this post. That was the same fist to the heart I had when the Pixie began telling me she didn't want "songs" anymore at bedtime. I still ask her though...

Beautifully written, FADKOG!

Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger zelzee said...

And each time mine left (school, college, apartment, marriage)....I cried harder.

I miss those early years so much.
Enjoy every single day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Twenty Four At Heart said...

And my daughter moves to Boston this summer. What could be further from Orange County other than Maine? And yes, I will be sobbing .....

Sunday, April 25, 2010 5:44:00 PM  
Blogger bernthis said...

OMG, that is so moving. My daughter is turning 7 in August and she wants to be with her friends all the time. It's heartbreaking. I know it's normal but I just want to say, "but what about us?"

Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

Awwww! :o(

I'm 10 years older than my youngest brother. I was in charge of him from the moment my mom gave birth and then had to go to work shortly after. He was 12 when he said "why should I listen to you? You're not my mother" and it was very ouchie.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger AiringMyLaundry said...

I'm trying really hard not to cry here...so sweet...

Sunday, April 25, 2010 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Juicebox said...

I remember when my daughter didn't want me to wait with her at the bus stop anymore. She was a Freshman. ;) And even then I was nervous about letting her do it. Next year she'll be a senior and I'll be leaving her on a college campus all day. I'm seriously considering asking my doctor for Valium.

Monday, April 26, 2010 8:16:00 AM  
Blogger A Vapid Blonde said...

You have magical writing powers woman!

I don't have kids but you still made me feel your achiness!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Becky said...

Way to break my heart open.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 4:20:00 PM  
Blogger jennyonthespot said...

Oh... my heart!

Thursday, April 29, 2010 7:46:00 PM  

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