Today is the first day of school here for my three boys. It doesn't matter that one is heading into his senior year, one into his sophomore year and a new campus, and the youngest into fourth grade. The waterworks for me still flow.
The alarm went off at 5:45am so I could make their lunches. Luckily, their appetites had not changed a whole lot over the summer so the weekend shopping (which, the weekend before school, looked just a couple of notches below hurricane shopping) was almost automatic and I fell mostly back in step for the morning kitchen jitterbug. Here's the menu:
On the first day of summer vacation, breakfast became relic for the older boys. Who needs it if you get up time for a mid-afternoon snack? This morning it was eggs, bacon, and toast for MaShone, cheesey eggs and bacon for the Hammer, cereal for SFB. Waffles was the initial request, but those weren't on the shopping list, and I didn't have time enough to make some batter. May have to get up a bit earlier for that tomorrow.
Once dishes were put away and teeth brushed, it was time for pictures. I have been taking pictures of the boys on their first day of school since kindergarten. Usually I remember to take them in the same spot as the year before, and I managed to do that this morning. Not only that, but I have a picture of the two older boys in the exact same spot on our walkway where I took one of them on their first day of kindergarten and first grade. Once I snapped it, I felt the waterworks start. Luckily, they were in a hurry to go but I also kept my head down and away as if i was checking a patch of weeds in the lawn. I told them I loved them and to have a good day, and they sped off.
I remained outside for a bit. Ridicule meets emotional eyes and the attendant sniffling in my house, at least from the other grown-ups, and I didn't want RunningHammer to be concerned about anything since, like I, he's a worrier and the slightest tug exercises the tear ducts.
When I got back inside RH was dressed and ready. Teeth brushed. Lunchbox in backpack. I took his picture on the front step as well, a real keeper, but maintained impeccable self-control. A quick goodbye to Mom, Grandma, all the cats, the snake, and the goldfish. I gave him a hug and kiss at the door.
"You don't want me to do this by your class and embarrass you, do you?" I asked.
And we were off to school.
Traffic wasn't the madness I expected, but I didn't take any chances. We passed the school, looped back on a side street, parked in front of someone's house, and walked a block or so. He had a shy grin on his face as we crossed the street, backpack and long summer-scorched hair bouncing behind him. "Excited, huh?"
The sidewalk split in two by the gate, and one half ventured into the yard that held the hurricane-proof portable in which he would spend the year. We did our handshake: a high-five plus fist-bump plus snap. Only then, as if through that we had detached, did apprehension, like a bat across a full moon, flash in his eyes.
"I'll meet you right here after school," I said.
"OK, Dad." He walked up the sidewalk and through the gate. "Love you, Dad."
"Love you, too, pal."
Then, abandoning the sidewalk, he cut across the grass to his classroom. After the door shut behind him, I walked back to the car. I kept my head down as I passed other chatting parents, and by the time I started the car, my eyes were dry enough to see.