Well okay, I guess it really is just for kids. There’s no way I could fit my big uhh self into one of those squares on the carpet that they sit in. Today was River’s first day of Kindergarten and as I left the school this morning I couldn’t help getting a swell of emotion as I looked back at my little guy. Standing there with his hair, where bedhead beat out the brush (I tried, I really did), and his Avengers backpack draping down past his shirt.
Of course, to 99.9% of the people there, he’s just another little kid in the mix, but I see the bouncy excitement that turned into nervous anticipation as the morning went on. I feel the potential of all the school days ahead- I remember this journey, but only from a dream that happened many, many nights ago. It’s almost like he’s sitting atop one of the longest, most crazy slides that one can imagine and just watching him look over the edge makes my stomach drop.
I own the heaviness of the moment, knowing that this is a new chapter for him, a new beginning. This, of course, means that one chapter has closed for good. There is no return. I am both happy and sad for him- for me. Perhaps it’s selfish to bestow so much emotional weight upon this young traveller, but the fact is, he changed me forever.
No, I didn’t suddenly become this selfless father with the perfect mixture of warm hugs and stern looks (all my kids would’ve really liked that, I’m sure). I still want “me” time and sometimes I get louder than I should, but the day he was born my whole existence suddenly become much bigger than just me and my dreams. His thoughts, his fears, his questions, his strengths, his insecurities, I lovingly adopt them every day as my own. Why? So that I can connect, so that I can speak his language, so that I don’t miss the cues.
Just the other day River was crying under a heating lamp with a freshly cut umbilical cord, then I changed my shirt a few times, and dropped him off at Kindergarten today. Two more times around this track and I’ll be snapping a picture of him pulling out of the driveway on his way to his senior year of high school. So yeah, I’ll pick up every cue, question, laugh, stress-session, tough conversation, and hug that I can get. He’s not my only kid, but he was my first real-life parenting class and sometimes I feel like I’m still in Kindergarten. Juice box please?