8.23.2016

i'll eat you up, i love you so: the first day of pre-k

Last night you were nervous. You asked if Barack Obama got nervous before his first day of school and your eyes grew wide in disbelief that someone so magnificent could get nervous, too. I realized then that you will never understand the depth of my pride, respect or admiration for you. To me, you are that great and that magnificent.

There is something so absolutely unnatural in a mother releasing the grasp of her child to let them grow. Something unnatural in the naturalness that is the growing up process, as nonsensical as that seems. "It's just preschool," people urge me. "You'll see, you'll be loving it," they assure me. But, my sweet boy, when I chose to have you and raise you and be your mommy, I chose that forever. I chose to soak in every minute of you even the long, overtired days where neither one of us had much to contribute to the day. And I chose all of it knowing that one day the ebbs and flow of the tide would whisk you away into an independent life completely untied from my own. So, yes, it is just preschool. But it is the end of something and also the start of something new, and you sort of half one foot in the queue of school and the other in the river of childhood. Next year, I will hear a lot of people telling me that it's just Kindergarten but it will be so much more than that: it will be both feet on the conveyor belt that will take you into independence and adulthood.

You picked out your shoes this year. We got your feet fitted at Vans and the sales associate brought out "these regular ones your mom picked out or these cool glow in the dark snake skeleton ones" and I winced and laughed because, well, I knew we would be leaving with the glow in the dark snake skeleton shoes. I love them in all of their ridiculousness.

And then this morning, sleepily over breakfast, you asked me what to do if someone teases you. "I guess sometimes kids don't have mommies like you who teach them how to be kind and give them hugs," you rationalized as you bit into your peanut butter sandwich. I am stuck in this place of loving our conversations and your realizations and the beautiful, abstract, intricate view you have of the world and then seeing you as that diaper-clad toddler clapping your palms together with joy when you matched the corresponding colors together in our tot school classroom.

Baby, baby it's a wild world.

I want you to know that I find so much solace in your hugs and that for a brief moment, the wrongs of the world are righted when I get to look into your bright, oceanic eyes. I want you to know that when you are stubborn and we butt heads I am still proud of your strength. I want you to know that there is softness in your smile and that I refuse to let your anxieties deter you from a lifetime of joy because that's how I spent far, far too much of my life. Until there was you.

I want you to know that I will always be on your side and that there is nothing -- literally nothing -- you can't talk to me about because I will always be the support structure holding your messy feelings together and giving them validation. I want you to know that you are peace and love and pride and joy; that you are every abreaction I ever had as a teenager standing before me with your hard part and velcro Vans. "Tell me how much you love me," you asked as we pulled into your preschool parking lot. "Like the stars above," I told you. And then a few moments later inside your classroom you looked up at me and said "you can go now, mommy."

And this is when I realized there will never be words for the level of pride and love and joy and sadness that are balled up in my heart at this moment. I can't expect you to change the world if I don't let you step out into it. I don't have to tell you to be the good, my baby, because you already are.

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