Sunday, August 24, 2008

kindergarten begins for the boy

Why is it that 5-year-olds spend precious minutes describing to their parents how they are about to defecate on themselves while crouching and grimacing, when the toilet is only steps away? I thought that the Freudian anal stage ended several years ago.

That is the best I could do for the segue into this blog entry on my big baby starting kindergarten in the morning.

We took a trip to Marble Slab Creamery to celebrate "The End of the Summer." Of course, that's just an expression for "The End of Freedom and Unaccountability," because the summer temperatures will be with us here in Tennessee for a couple more months. As it is, the big oak tree beside my house in the backyard has been turning yellow. Rain from Hurricane Fay finally reached us, forcing the faded leaves to drop like it is October in Illinois.

I'm going to try to be organized and pack up the lunch tonight. I know this won't last for more than a week! The sandwich shouldn't get soggy when it only has peanut butter on it. The metal thermos is ready to make its long-awaited appearance (whether this will be an embarrassment to him or not remains to be seen).

His school clothes are hanging neatly in the closet. Hours of laundry finally put away, a vicious cycle in which I have probably wasted a year of my life doing. We will choose the outfit in the morning. You know how it goes--all the best clothes for the first week, then the much-loved overwashed t-shirts get to be worn after that.

I will make the 5-minute drive to the front door of the school everyday. In a hard-won compromise, I agreed to let him take the bus home.

After the drop-off, the school is hosting a breakfast for the kindergarten parents. It's supposed to make us feel better about sending our babies off to school. I hope they are feeding us biscuits and gravy (I am not morphing into a Southerner. I've always loved those soft refined-grain biscuits smothered in fatty white gravy, even when I lived in Illinois, but could really only find a good platter of it at McDonald's, sadly). But Southern food is comfort food.

I've heard many people say something like "I'm a better parent with this one, now that I'm older." I've come to realize that I am still very much the same person that I was ten years ago, with many of the same dreams and desires, and even more fears. Not a better parent, but a more careful parent. Careful to guard their feelings and youth, to commit to memory occasions that may seem insignificant now but will tell the story of their lives down the road, to nurture their sense of humor as much as their intellectualism, to recognize beginnings and endings and savor them as long as I possibly can.

He forgot to take his blanket to bed, the tattered crib comforter left over from my oldest daughter. The batting has been replaced, but it also succumbed to countless trips being dragged along the floor.

He's screaming down the stairs that he needs this blanket. I yell for him from my chair at the computer desk to come and get it. He finds it in the dark and bounds back up to his bed. He's yelling again, "You forgot to cover me!" I resist the urge to say "You're a big boy, you can cover yourself." This is one of the last signs of his babyhood that I have left, and I'm not quite ready to let it go. I pull away from my writing and tuck him in once more.


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