I dashed passed the crossing guards with their friendly “goodbyes”, closed the car door, and yelled, frustrated with myself and my son. Leaning over I ducked my head so that passersby wouldn’t see the tears streaming down my cheeks, the agony evident in my eyes. I knew I had done the right thing, leaving my 1st grader with his teacher, yet it still felt so hard.
When he was a baby, we would sit for hours together–nurse, sleep, repeat. At two we had a brief stint with preschool, but even after a month he would be still cry in the morning and would be standing at the child gate every afternoon waiting for me. Kindergarten was better, as long as we followed his routine. I wait until the bell rings, he gives me a hug, waves, says “bye mom!” Then I give him a kiss, say “bye Ash! See you at pickup!”, and we both move on to our days.
That’s how today should have gone. We still follow the routine, and he is more and more independent. But something happened today that threw all that off. Of course I will never know exactly what it was–a bad dream? Not enough sleep? Less-than-restful night? I don’t know for sure, but I think it was cuddling that ruined the morning.
Yep, cuddling. Usually Asher wakes himself up, heads downstairs, has some “personal time,” then does math, eats breakfast, and we’re off to school. This morning as I heard his feet patter down the hall, I called out “good morning Ash!” He came over and climbed into my bed. We cuddled for 20 minutes, talking about different things. I savored the sweetness of his little-boy voice blessing my morning. Eventually it was time to get up.
And that’s when it started. “Mom, I have a fever. Can I stay home?” Then, a few minutes later: “I really don’t want to go to school today, can I have a free day?” For 40 minutes he delayed, and then we were behind schedule. He cried. He begged. He called me names. I did a great job of staying calm, keeping him focused on what he needed to do, and yet still we were behind.
On the ride to school I praised him. I told him I was proud of him because even though he didn’t want to, he still used his own power to get in the car. He hadn’t wanted to do math, and he still picked up his pencil and did it. I told him that showed dedication, perseverance, and self-control. We said prayers, and got to school.
Then came my second mistake. “The bell just rang, so let’s hustle!” What followed was a 10-minute public struggle, with him yelling and grabbing my jacket, his teacher holding on to him, me trying to stay composed. I said “here’s your chance, I’m going to leave, let’s have a nice goodbye.” That almost worked, until I turned to leave and he grabbed me again, yelling that he was coming with me.
I finally broke free and started walking to the gate. He yelled out “mommy I want to say goodbye!” I turned around and saw him standing on the path, being held back by his teacher, my sweet little 6-yr old child. Shouting with tears streaming down his face. I waved, said “bye Ash, see you at pickup!”, turned, and walked away, my heart breaking.