Tonight the house is filled with the scent of coffee cake baking in the kitchen. In the morning the boys will come bounding upstairs asking if they can have some immediately, and of course they will – it was made especially for the first day of school. We’ll add some fruit and protein to go with it to hold them until lunch. They’re growing fast these days, and usually want a mid-morning snack.
Their backpacks wait by the back door. Tomorrow they’ll wear them – Baxter to fourth grade and Lyle for the first time – to kindergarten. Inside these will be family photos – one for Lyle to look at if he’s missing us and an identical one for Baxter, requested by his teacher. Lyle’s is laminated in case it gets handled a lot. The backpacks – a large red one and a smaller blue one – will also contain their lunchboxes, the ones that they diligently packed by themselves after dinner tonight and jammed into the fridge. A peanut butter and honey sandwich for Baxter, a little light on the peanut butter, and a mini bagel for Lyle with cream cheese slathered on so thick that some had to be removed. Grapes washed by Daddy and some snacks from the new drawer way down low that’s filled with lunch foods for the kids to pick out themselves. And finally, a love note from us, with two little Hershey kisses tucked in as a surprise when they went to bed.
It was four years ago that we sent Baxter off to kindergarten. The post I wrote on his kindergarten eve was my first blog post ever and feels like eons ago, and yet so much about the experience is unchanged. Last time, however, many people were asking if I was nervous. This time the question I’m getting is, “Will you cry?” I suppose this is the difference between sending your firstborn to kindergarten (when “big kid school” is all brand-new and your child surviving a full day of school seems all but impossible) and sending your “baby” to kindergarten. Four years ago, my answer was “No, I’m not nervous!” but this time around? About me crying? Extremely likely.
I can say that with great certainty since I already found myself choked up last week sitting on the colorful circle rug with Lyle on my lap at kindergarten orientation, reading a Froggy book, and hearing a Dad nearby gently reminding his son of where he should put his jacket and backpack on the first day of school and suddenly his unspoken words “…when we won’t be here to show you…” reverberated through my mind and then ricocheted down into my heart, causing my eyes to sting and my breath to catch, forcing me to pause and collect myself before continuing the story.
And so, in addition to remembering the backpacks and lunchboxes and the shiny red apple Lyle wants to bring for his teacher, I will stuff some tissues into my pocket tomorrow morning. Because in the end it doesn’t matter how ready he is, how nice and capable his teacher is, how lucky he is to go to this school, or how prepared I am to have both of my kids in a great public school in an amazing city all day (pinch me!), my little guy is going to big kid school which must surely mean that he’s growing up.
Pass the tissues.