THE END OF THE INNOCENCE
I could see the trepidation in his eyes, and, for the first time, I could do nothing to alleviate it. He knew it and I knew it. It wasn’t preschool where I could just take him home if he was having an off day…or a rough tee-ball practice when I could give him a treat…or a trip to the park ending in a scraped knee that always felt better after one of daddy’s milk shakes…I could offer little comfort today. This was the beginning of Reality 101 (inasmuch as a parochial kindergarten can be reality).
Somehow, I felt this was tougher on me than on him. He did not comprehend the realities that begin with school: homework, 17 years in the classroom, teachers, bullies, the wonders of the universe, computers, painting, art, science, math, history, camaraderie, girls, crushes, crossing guards, recess, lunch, field trips, and everything in between.
To him it was the beginning of a new adventure, as it should be. To me it was the end of an era. Our direct daily dominion was now being supplanted by a myriad of outside influences, all of which were out of our control.
As my wife and I lay in bed before the boys awoke that morning, she traced our oldest sons six years of life by recounting brief memory shards. Focusing on the highlights, wonders and joys inextricably connected with that first child. I marveled at the love in her recollections and I visualized each moment as she described it.
As he climbed into bed with us before his first day of kindergarten, the innocence that comes with the initial half dozen years of life was beautifully reflected in his eyes. As he put on his school uniform, so painfully similar to the one I had donned for eight years, I flashed-back to a hundred different grammar school memories, a few of them were even positive! Hopefully his experiences would be better.
As we approached the school my son spotted some of his friends from preschool and they chatted excitedly about the new path on which they were about to embark. I looked around at the other parents, all looking around at the other parents, and the realization of this new journey struck like a fastball to the gut. The teacher made a very subtle overture for the parents to leave, “I need all the parents to please leave the classroom!” But being the product of a rebellious youth, we ignored her.
DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU
“Please now, say goodbye, we need to begin our day,” the teacher tried again. Photos were taken, hugs exchanged, and we made our way out the door. As the parents all shuffled down the stairs, I told my wife I was going back in for one final pat. My son patted me on the hand and assured me everything would be all right.
I could see the trepidation in my wife’s eyes, and I could do nothing to alleviate it. It was time for our son to begin a new facet in his very young life. But the remembrances of his first six years will live forever in our hearts, replaying like a favorite old film offering comfort and joy.