Today my girls went off to school without their big brother for the first time since either of them has been in school. Off to second and fourth grade they went, confidently excited about the new school year.
I saw the oldest girl in a new light as I realized that she is now the oldest of my children in Elementary School. It struck me, as I left her in her new fourth grade classroom, that she only has two years left in Elementary School. I remember dropping her off at Kindergarten. It just doesn't seem like it was that long ago. She seemed so much more grown-up this morning than when she went to bed last night. I watched her hug friends and show off her self-styled first-day look. I wished her good things for this year as I walked away. Another year to grow into her skin. Another year to learn and develop.
As for the small sprite, well, she was in true form. Confident and happy, ready to conquer the world. She was eager to get settled into her classroom. Eager for another school year. Eager to see friends. She pulled me along through the hallways she now knows well. Because she, too, is now years from that morning that I left her apprehensive in her Kindergarten classroom. I gave her hugs and kisses and watched her skip away to her desk, settled next to a good friend, ready for her adventure. I wished her a year of good experiences and new friends. A year to untangle her sprightly ways and spread her wings.
I got back to the house as the boy was rising. His eyes told me that he was nervous. The first day of Middle School. A new school, a new routine, new friends, new experiences. They all awaited him. He fidgeted with his backpack and his shoes and his colorful self-styled first day clothes. The confidence he went to bed with was replaced with quiet anxiety as he tried to anticipate his new world. As we pulled into school we went over his schedule again. We talked through the layout of the school. I reminded him of the friends he already knew he'd see today. I told him that I was positive that they were nervous, too. I told him that he was ready for this. That he is courageous, intelligent, and strong. He got out of the car, still nervous, but a little more reassured that he would make it through the day without a completely embarrassing mishap. As I watched him stroll into his new school, I felt a tear roll down my cheek. He stepped out of the car with his head down and shoulders slumped. But I saw a transformation as he neared the door. His head rose, he pulled back his shoulders, and he stepped into a new world, outwardly confident and holding his inner anxieties at bay. As I pulled away I was taken back to each first day with him. From the first day of preschool to now, I remember each of those days vividly. In my minds eye, I watched him grow like images in a cartoon flip book. So quickly moving through the images that brought me to today. My baby he'll always be. But I'm so incredibly proud of the young man he's becoming. This will be a year of growing in maturity, and probably size. A year of stretching his skin in so many ways. I wished him strength and confidence. And the kindness of others. And a day to start the year off right.
They all came home exhausted but happy. The school year has arrived. We are ready. Let the adventure and the growing begin.