Well, they're in there now. Carson and Cooper are in school, two rooms down from each other. All day, five days a week.
And until 3:05 today, I'm here. Just me.
Really I'm in the car mechanic's waiting room...but I'm all by myself. No one to entertain or to help find a play area. There's a woman here with a three-year-old and a baby in a stroller. Good luck, ma'am...get ready for a lifetime of heartache.
I dropped the boys off at the school this morning, after a night of restless sleep and about two hours of rationalizing with Dwayne.
"What if I were to just keep him home tomorrow and homeschool him for Pre-K? How hard can that be?" Then I played out the scenario of breaking that news to Cooper, that his uniforms wouldn't be needed, that he's not going to be with that teacher who seems to have hung the moon, that he's not going to be a part of their first learning unit: all about Africa.
And I knew I'd have a fight on my hands. A big one.
So I reassured myself once again: that this is going to be a healthy and enriching environment for him. That he's old by pre-k standards (five in about three weeks) and he's ready for a classroom. That we're so incredibly lucky to be a part of this school.
And then this morning I nearly lost it at the sight of him in his uniform. And Carson, in all his 1st grade wisdom, briefing him on some basic rules of school and reminding him that we want to hear all about his day.
Once we made it to the hallway outside Cooper's classroom, I'd officially begun deep-breathing...searching somewhere for composure. The emotion, I think, comes from so many places: I'm sad to be facing seven hours daily without him, I'm happy he'll be in such a wonderful program, I'm thinking of him at nine weeks old when I drove myself crazy wondering what kind of four-year-old he'd be.
And as I fumbled outside his locker with his backpack and pillow and blanket, he deserted me. Right into the classroom. Carson was long gone to his own room with not even a glance back to me. Fine. Leave me standing in my own breathing exercises in the middle of the hallway.
Dwayne and I followed him into the room, where he'd assumed a position in the middle with his hands shoved into the pockets of his creased shorts. He seemed to be surveying the situation...the other kids, all the colorful decor, the crying little girl clinging to her mother. Yeah, that helped. I wanted to say "don't look!" but he stared at her shyly, maybe wondering "what's her problem?" Didn't seem to faze him too much. Me, on the other hand...
When it was time to go I leaned over Cooper and hugged him and told him to have a great day. Only my words were choppy, probably because of the deep breathing exercises. "K," he said. "Bye Mom."
And just like that, he's a student.
I turned to walk out and continued to deep-breathe, but by now I realized that wasn't working worth a crap. And Dwayne put his arm around me and shuffled me out the door and honestly, I have no idea what his reaction to the whole process was because I was so involved in my own drama. Maybe I should call him...
I met several sympathetic faces on the way out of the building, but I really just wanted to get to my car so I could ugly-cry in peace. After a hug from Dwayne and a minute to myself, I managed to get a grip.
Dwayne reminded me last night that they'll also be starting sixth grade in a few years, then high school, then college (God willing), and I'm not sure of his point but I think it was something like "you better learn how to deal with stuff like this 'cause it's never going to end..."
And he's right: my kids will be growing up and moving on and having new beginnings their whole lives. I wouldn't want anything less for them.
But I seriously need to get better at that whole deep-breathing thing.