Tuesday, 25 August 2009

School Days

My son went to school today.  My precious little man has officially started his scholastic journey that will be marked by tears, rejection, acceptance, grades, popsicle art, macaroni necklaces, book reports, research papers and final exams. He might even play sports, or pick up a musical instrument or take to art. I guess we’ve entered a new chapter, blah blah blah, insert sentimental mommy stuff.
What is supposed to be a significant day really started like all the others, with one exception: I woke him up. We lay in his bed, a dull light entering his window. “I dreamed about Lightning,” he says. “Are you ready for school?” I ask the umpteenth time this week.  “Yeah, sure,” he replies in his squeaky little voice. Hair sticking up  at all ends since we chopped it to repair mommy’s poor attempt at a trim. He looks like a little boy this morning. A proper boy who terrorizes little girls and digs up worms in the garden and wants to play soccer. I get two pieces of toast down him, and he behaves himself at the table while I rush upstairs to throw something on. Don’t want to look like a slob in comparison with the French mamans or the Norwegian mødre. Long skinny jeans, baby doll top, ubiquitous scarf slung around my neck.
Alec is ready to get dressed: a miracle! He’s good with his outfit until I go to put the Mr. Happy hoodie from H&M on him. Scrunching his face he tells me “I don’t like it.” “I know you don’t Alec, but you’ve outgrown everything, and your dinosaur jacket is dirty.” He blows air out of his mouth. “They’re going to laugh at me.” How does he have this fear already? “No they won’t Alec, I bet they all have the Mister books. They’ll like it.” He shakes his head. I don’t push for now.
Pictures are snapped on the front steps, garden boots lurking in the background. We hop in the car without problems. Again, miracle of miracles! I sip my coffee as we trek towards downtown. Dodging pedestrians, cyclists and triker, or trams.  He attempts to identify the languages spoken on various radio stations. “Is that English, mommy?” “No honey, that’s Norwegian.” We change channels. “And this one is French, that is what they will be speaking today.” I try to ease him into his first day at école with French radio reports of Swedish-Israel relations tensing (who knew?) and Somali soldiers. 
We find a parking space by the grace of God, and I slip into it, taking care not to kiss the Beamer behind me or the small generic VW in front of me. I pour all the coins I could gather this morning into the meter and slap the ticket on the dash. He dons his Lightning McQueen backpack on (over the hoodie-success!) and we try to snap a photo.
We traverse the crosswalk and round the corner where echoes of French are bouncing off the buildings in the courtyard. We run together, into the tall building. Toilets, check. I note with pride he is the only one among the munchkins who goes into the stall by himself and comes out without a hitch. We locate his name, hang up his backpack, rain gear, rain boots, etc., and enter the classroom. 
And then it hits me as he bolts from me. My little man is well, as little man. He takes off to the play area with nary a thought of clinging to my jeans. There will be no hiding behind my legs today, peeking out from the triangle of my thighs. I go to say goodbye. “Mommy’s leaving now Alec. I’ll see you in a little while.” No response. Not even a courtesy nod. “Can you say goodbye mommy?” “Yeah,” he mutters, focused on his task, acting older than he is. “Goodbye mom.”  I breathe a sigh of relief, and try not to think of the “mom” bit. He’s only three. I know he still needs his mommy for a little while yet.