Saturday, September 8, 2007
The dog paces restlessly around the room, the sound of his toenails unnaturally loud on the hardwood floor. He takes one more reconnoiter around the house before finally coming to confront me with a “What did you do with my kids?” expression, then flops down at my feet, chin on his paws, eyes as dark as chocolate syrup watching my every move.
The cuckoo clock chimes ten a.m. and we both jump; the ice maker in the fridge dumps out another tray of frozen cubes, the sound echoing in the otherwise empty house. I flip on the TV for company but can’t quite bear to leave Nickelodeon on, it makes me miss the kids too much, so I settle for The Weather Channel to provide some background noise. Another hour and fifteen minutes and I’ll pick my youngest up, but it’s more than four hours til the oldest is done for the day. For the umpteenth time I wonder what they’re doing, and think back to this morning.
I stood outside the school with the kids all lined up and waiting as my oldest son waited to go inside. He seemed happy, relaxed, chatting with friends. I’m always amazed at the ease with which the boys and girls from his class mix, happy to see one another and talk. When I was his age we were in separate lines and rarely talked to the opposite sex. But this one has a new hair cut to show off and someone else has pictures of a new puppy, and they mingle easily. A little girl I’ve never even seen before asks Colton if he knows her brother Max, he is in Colton’s preschool class. Colton, feeling shy, hugs my leg and peeks out from behind me, but finally nods his head yes. Wyatt barely seems to notice I’m there and I’m sure in another few days I’ll be told not to walk him to the door anymore, that he can do it himself. Still, as the line begins filing toward the doors, he breaks free for one quick hug and tolerates a kiss without complaint. Colton and I wave until he is out of sight, then head for home. The sky is hazy and it’s already getting hot; in the back of my mind I wonder if Wyatt will be too warm in that shirt and those shorts and make a mental note to change Colton’s outfit before he heads to preschool.
He’s not going, he tells me as we walk toward home. Nope. School is dumb and he is definitely not going (yes, he says definitely. The curse of a writer/reader/editor mom, my kids have great vocabularies). I tell him school is for big kids and yes, he’ll be going today. He informs me he doesn’t want to be big, he wants to be little again and in an Oscar-worthy performance, brings tears to his eyes at just the right moment. They shimmer and dance before one lone tear makes its way down a pudgy cheek. Will I stay with him in class today, like I did the other day? No, I say. Miss Erin has some special games for you to play today and you won’t get to play them if mommy is there. Then I pull out the big guns. I remind him of that really cool playground at preschool that he’s been wanting to try out. I’ll bet his class will be going outside to play there today. That answer quiets him as he weighs his options and a short time later, changed into a lighter shirt and shorts, he willingly buckles himself into his car seat and we head for school.
The drop off goes better than expected; never under estimate the power of a woman, even if she’s only four. His best friend Leila is in his class, and at the sight of her – skin tanned brown as a berry, big eyes shining, her curls even longer than they were last time we saw her – Colton quickly forgets his hesitance and makes a bee line for her. I hear her squeak his name in that cute little voice of hers “Co-tin!” They hug and I whisper a quick prayer of thanks, give his teacher a relieved smile and tell Colton I’m leaving now. “Okay,” he says, barely giving me a glance. Whew.
In just a few more minutes I’ll leave to pick him up, I can’t wait to hear how his day went. But for now, the dog and I are keeping one another company while I get some long-neglected work done. It feels kind of good to have this time to myself; not like this summer when the in-laws took the kids for the day, it’s different somehow. I’m watching the clock, knowing I’ll need to pick them up soon, planning lunch and after-school snacks.
But good as it feels… it sure is quiet.