Tomorrow I send to you a little boy, with bouncy blond hair and skinned-up knees. I pray you’ll treat him well.
I’ll walk him to those double doors and fix his crooked shirt collar and fasten the top button — the one that his nimble 5-year-old fingers can’t quite get. He’ll flinch as I tousle his hair and dab the toothpaste from his mouth.
I’ll tell him I hope he has a great first day, and that he should listen to his teacher.
I’ll look into his blue eyes, which are sparkling with excitement and curiosity about his new adventure, and tell him that I can’t wait to hear all about it at the end of the day. He still lets me hug and kiss him in public — for which I’m ever grateful, because I know it won’t be long until he’ll have me stay out of sight.
And in the moment I’ve been dreading, his little hand will slip out of mine. I’ll tell him I love him, and he’ll glance back and tell me he loves me more. He’ll cross the threshold and step into a brand-new classroom, with brand-new friends, brand-new crayons and a brand-new world of learning.
I’ll swallow the lump in my throat. But inevitably, as much I try to hold them back, the tears will come. The deepening sensation in my chest will lessen as I sit and remember he’ll be home in a few short hours.
I’ll remember that, as a working mom, I’ve done this before — every day, in fact — for the last five years. But this will feel different. This is school supplies and a cool new Batman backpack that lights up. It’s a lunch box and milk money. It’s a big new place with a cafeteria and gymnasium.
I dread the day he comes home sad because someone calls him a name. I fear for the frustration he’ll sense when he can’t grasp a new problem or skill. I’ll hate when his sweet nursery rhymes will fade from his memory and be replaced by pop songs and slang.
Maybe every mom there will have the same look of fear that I do, and will make me feel like I’m not overreacting. Maybe they’ll all know my anxiety and will read the thoughts of lockdown drills and bullying racing through my head.
We all hope they’ll never have to experience any fear. But we also know that inevitably, the older they get, the more they’ll know.
But regardless of all the fear, I’ll be excited for him to embark on this new journey. With the guidance of his wonderful teachers, he will become a good student. Every day I’ll be excited to hear about what he learned that day and hang his newest art projects on the refrigerator.
So world, please take care of my little boy — the one with bouncy blond hair and skinned-up knees. The one with the Batman backpack that lights up. Show him the best of what you have to offer. Take his little hand after it leaves mine and guide him down this new path. Let his kind smile and infectious laugh be a warm influence on his friends.
Let him always remember that his mom and dad love him — and we’ll see him after school.
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