Show and tell

This week was Andrew’s first week of school.
The day before classes began, I was up at the school with my fellow teachers, doing all our last-minute things in our own classrooms, and I walked into his class. It was perfect—clean and peaceful and ready for the junior kindergartners to descend on it with their backpacks and nap mats and squeaky new shoes. I saw his cubby and burst into tears.

Six years ago, the first day of classes was the day I found out I was pregnant. I laughed and cried and called my husband in the parking lot, breathless with happiness. It will never feel that far away.

Friday, Andrew had show-and-tell. He brought his space shuttle, one of his little yellow trucks, and a green plastic stegosaurus. We prepared what he would say: “I love backhoes. They’re one of my favorite trucks and I love to watch them work…this is a stegosaurus and it’s one of my dinosaurs…” All his favorite things.

It was a wonderful week for him—his teachers are kind and smart and his classroom has a sand table. He practically skipped around the playground—I could see him out the lunchroom window.He looked so handsome it wrung my heart—he’s a head taller than all the other kids in his class, so I could spot him in that line of kiddos in polo shirts. He had music class and played on the merry-go-round and carried his own backpack and lunchbox like he’d been doing it forever.

I listened to him introduce himself to another little boy—, “I’m Andrew and that’s my mom.”

I listened to a P.E. teacher say how sweet he was in class.

I know why I cried—I knew this week would be great, but I felt this hurt.

Once it starts, you can’t pretend it hasn’t started. Somebody once said that when you notice something, you notice that it’s been going on for a long time. Why doesn’t it feel like a long time ago that I made that phone call in the parking lot? How is he so big, so smart? How does he have all these interests all his own?

This whole week for me was just a grownup show-and-tell. This is my only son, Andrew. He is nearly my height, and he loves dinosaurs and trucks and space shuttles. I’ve had him for five years and I tried to teach him to write and read…one time he spit avocado on the floor, but today he ate a big lunch and cleaned up after himself. Now everybody admire him while I sit here wondering what it’ll be like when I drop him off at college or sit there at his wedding.

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