Last week Leta started second grade. I just had to let that sink in for a second because the memories I have of holding her in the earliest days of her life and thinking OH MY GOD, HOT POTATO! are distinct. So are the memories of her third year of life where she spent most of her time lying face down on the floor because that’s the direction she had thrown her body.
The drop-off on her first day of preschool? Unbearable. Kindergarten? Just a tiny bit less unbearable. First grade? Heart-wrenching. Second grade?
“Bye,” I said when it was time for me to leave.
“Bye, mom,” she said.
“No, really. I’m leaving, Leta.”
“That’s what bye usually means.”
“You going to be okay?”
She looked around and then lowered her voice to a whisper. “Can you please go now?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Jon and I woke up that morning and said something to each other about preparing for the emotional bomb that would surely unfold. She handles anxiety like I did in that everything turns into an obstacle, and there were hints of this. Like when I walked with her upstairs and said, “I’m going to go put on my clothes, and while I’m doing that… you know… just get dressed.”
She shook her head and emphasized several blinks. “JUST get dressed?”
“Yes,” I said. “Just get dressed.”
“But what about brushing my teeth? You’re going to send me to school with dirty teeth?!”
“Wait, what?” I asked.
“You said JUST GET DRESSED. What about my hair? Am I supposed to brush my hair?!”
“When I said JUST GET DRESSED that meant your teeth and your hair included. It’s a whole package.”
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN PACKAGE? Like something you pick up from the mailbox?!”
I held my mouth shut tightly for a second to gain my composure because I suddenly remembered what a nightmare it can be to get her dressed before school every morning. And this wasn’t so much a nightmare as it was HOLY SHIT, I feel like I’m having a conversation with a person who has just smoked an entire joint.
I put my hands on her shoulders, kneeled down and said, “Please go put on your shirt and then your shorts. Then, brush your teeth and your hair. After that, go put on your socks and shoes. Finally, meet me downstairs.”
This made so much more sense to her NOW THAT SHE WAS SOBER and she said, “Ok, phew. I didn’t want to start second grade with dirty teeth.”
But then, that super awesome, no-drama drop-off. And the following day she told me that she just wanted me to let her out by the front door because she was in second grade and didn’t need someone to walk her to class like a first grader. When she got out of the car I expected her to do a swanky side-step while singing “Grease Lightning.”
And just like that, another major milestone in the rearview. I am the mother of a second grader.
(This is a photo of her the week she started preschool. I just… whoa.)