Tuesdays are already kind of crunched for us anyway, because Delia has practice for the primary grade chorus, The Eighth Notes. It meets an hour before school starts, which means our day has to start an hour earlier too. Usually, Fiona and I walk Delia to school, drop her off for singing, then turn around and go home, only to come back to school for Fiona to get into class on time. It always makes her kind of cranky, even when we are lucky enough to get a ride from Janet and Jennessa, our friends who swing by and pick us up on the way to school, saving us the morning walk.
|She still looks little here, but she knows she's big.|
"So just drop me off with Delia, then I'll go to class when the bell rings, " she said casually, as though she planned the schedule every morning.
"Are you sure? We can get a ride when it's time for you to go to school. Are you sure?" She remained steadily focused on an episode of Arthur on PBS. "You can do your homework at home. Are you sure?"
"Mom," she was clearly exasperated with my back-talk. "I'm a big girl. You're always telling me to be a big girl." She put up her hand, with the palm facing me, to dispense with any further questions: "I'm sure." Then she disappeared to pick out an outfit and make noise in her room to wake Delia up.
"Are you sure?" I called after her. "I'm not coming back for you, you know." No reply. "If you decide to stay, you'll be there until school's over." Of course, I was talking to myself.
Now, this is the same girl who slips into our bed every other night, claiming to be cold, or wide awake, or just lonely.
This is the same girl who wheels her baby dolls around in a pink polka-dotted perambulator while talking on a toy cell phone to their pretend Dad, the big yellow M&M, insisting that they need "freshened" air, even though she only walks them around inside the house. This is the same girl who is my youngest child. My baby.
And I'm sure this is why it smacks me so hard when she says she is big. I have always wanted the kids to be independent. We never talked baby talk, and I'm not very patient, so there are a lot of things I've expected my kids to do for themselves. I felt like I was scooting all of them along, from the first step to the first word to the first day of school. Moving through the list of firsts makes me happy and proud and it made me feel like we were on track and moving forward. And moving forward is always a positive thing, right?
I don't think about it most of the time, but every once in a while, like this morning, it hits me: her firsts are my lasts. I'm not going to have another kindergartner starting school, learning to go in on her own and start her own day. I am still proud, of course, but also a bit sad thinking that she has her own day now, and her own thoughts. Some spaces in her life are already out of my reach. I know that this is the way things are supposed to go, and I'm glad Fiona is moving forward. I want her to be independent and confident on her own, but I guess I want her to miss me just a little, at least for now.
So I was glad that, even though she wouldn't let me walk her all the way into the computer lab ("I'm fine, Mom, just go") she did turn and look back one more time before she went in. She flashed a smile as she turned the corner and said, "See you after school, Mommy."
That's my little girl.