Last night Kayla carefully sat out Bright's outfit and packed his lunch in the Spiderman lunch box that we borrowed from some friends here.
This morning he woke up right on time, 7am. We had been talking about this day for the past few months now, really trying to gear him up for it.
Over breakfast, we spoke, man to man, over some ovaltine.
Though he was a little groggy, I reviewed the details with him.
"You'll get on the bus at 7:30 and they will take you to school. Then you'll need to walk to your classroom. Your teacher's name is Mrs. Alexander." He had requested cheese toast hearts for breakfast. When I make the boys breakfast, which is extremely rare, that is the special and easy dish I make. Take some toast, put cheese on it, cut it into a heart, and when you set it on the table say, "Cheese toast hearts, because I love you."
In no time at all his outfit was on and we were at the door. I think Kayla and I both felt like he had been put on some sort of fast moving roller coaster and was being zipped out of our arms.
We went down the elevator.
Outside, the mini-bus was waiting.
Bright was focused, as if preparing for some great challenge. I was emotional.
Before I knew it, the bus took off winding down the streets of our city. Like any good over concerned parent, I got in the car with all of the other over concerned parents and followed that thing.
We parked a good bit away, so as not to be seen. Bright was crying when he got off the bus. I heard one of the other mom's say, "Your dad's right here." I had told him I wouldn't be, and he calmly responded, "No he isn't." So I walked over and we both took a deep breath.
We walked into the gravel courtyard in front of the school. Traffic was good that morning so we had about 15 minutes to be together. There were so many kids. All running around, laughing, playing. And then there was my little boy in between my legs with a mickey mouse back pack on.
I leaned down and told him about my first day of school. The one I remember is from the second grade. "I went to school back in Van Buren. At King school." I told him. "I remember getting there early and not knowing anyone. I was a little nervous."
By this time I was squatting down and he had leaned back on me. His cheek was on mine as we watched the other kids and I wore the mickey mouse backpack.
"We were all outside for recess and everyone was having so much fun. But I really didn't know anyone. Then I met a little boy my age. Do you remember Asher's daddy?" He did. I said, "Yea, Mr. Tyler. I met him on my first day of school and he and I have been good friends ever since."
You know how you just start talking to your kids to distract them when they're upset? Most of the time, I really don't know where I'm going with it, I just want to help him stay calm. As I realized where this was going, I started to choke up but I knew me being upset would upset him so I cut it off.
"Maybe you'll meet a friend like that today." The bell rang and we started to try and find his class.
Down the hall on the first floor we found his cubby. In it, we put his bag, his lunch, and his shoes. Then Mrs. Alexander welcomed us in. It was awesome. She sat each kid down on a colorful pillow and began to talk about what their time together would look like. Bright suddenly seemed at ease. I told him I would see him at 12:20, and slipped out.
From the hall I saw her pull a large paper owl out of a box. She said, "Ok class, does anyone know what this is?" Bright instantly raised his hand and said, "Mrs. Alexander! That's an owl!" Then the wing fell off. The last thing I heard him say was, "Mrs Alexander! You better pick that wing up and attach it!"
It was so good to see him so happy. Then, I went in the bathroom, wept, regained my composure, and left. On the way home we stopped for milkshakes. He got strawberry, and I got coffee flavor. He explained to me that there were really only two things to do in the playground.
"We played on the bridges and then jumped in the water. But, the water is really just grass." He continued, "There is also a house there. But, the girls shut the door and said, 'No boys allowed!'" He thought that was hilarious.
"Well what did you do?" I asked. "We just pushed them out."
"Who?" I asked. "Me and Sam."