Last year’s first day of kindergarten was marked by a lightening storm that shook the yellow school bus as my son rode home to me. Just as the bus came into view around the corner, the skies split open, a steady wind whipping the rain ever-sideways so that I was soaked to the skin despite the umbrella I fought with an invisible foe to keep over my head.
I remember seeing his face first and knowing something was wrong. Even through the liquid sheets of white, I could make out the crumpled eyes and down turned mouth. Wyatt sobbed in fear as he descended the black rubber steps and crossed the asphalt towards me. There, he collapsed at my feet on the wet ground and had to be lifted and almost dragged the last few feet into the van.
That day was wrought with heartache and tears. As I held my still wet-headed Wyatt on the sofa, he blubbered that he never wanted to go back to school again. Not ever. This was it.
Obviously, he did return the next day and the next. Still, it was a difficult Fall for our entire family, with us having to learn to accept this new season in our lives and to figure out how to make this new routine work.
In the end, we discovered life was smoother after my working the night shift if the twins and I slept through the bus. Mornings became daddy and Wyatt time with daddy getting Wyatt ready and driving him to school each morning.
By the Spring, Wyatt and I had started a tradition of me writing him a note each night to be read at breakfast the following morning. He and I both were always excited to read what the other had written—an encouragement, an expression of love, a request for prayer, a reminder of something in God’s Word.
In that way, we ended the school year on a positive note and ran headlong into the joys of summer.
This past Friday, we started again, this time with Wyatt’s first grade year.
What a difference one year can make.
There was no lightening storm, no torrential downpour, no invisible currents in the air. I simply stood in the heat and waited for the sound of the bus shifting gears before it rounded the bend.
My now older boy leapt off the bus, squealed my name as he had done a few months before, and ran to me before stopping and almost passing me by on his way for a brownie inside Oma’s house.
“Woah!” I said, pausing. “What about my daily hug?”
Bright eyes flickered up at me in surprise at his forgetting and a snaggle-toothed grin split his face. Then, two slender arms grabbed me around the waist and squeezed tight as I ducked to kiss the top of his head.
I smiled at his independence, a bittersweet knowing that when I went through his first grade papers at the end of this school year to pull out treasures, I would no longer find any pages with "I miss mommy" written in crayon.
Images: Wyatt playing Angry Birds as he rides to school with daddy.
Wyatt enjoying himself at our Back to School fiesta.