My lunches have been lonely. I mean, Libby is there, but one on one time is different than when it was Libby and Portia and I heatedly discussing how many carrots must be consumed. I miss Portia and Libby together, fighting and working things out. Or like today as together they make up "Nut Job: The Musical" at the breakfast table, the energy is just different. I don't exactly mind it, but I feel unsettled. My lunches are lonely because Portia started Kindergarten this Fall.
I wasn't going to be the clingy mama. I knew Portia would rock out her first week of Kindergarten. I want her to be gone all day so I can start trying to do some semblance of work. I want to get alone time with Libby before she is gone to school too. I’m a practical mama so I didn't expect the first day of Kindergarten. Not really.
I almost cried at drop off. I felt the wave of emotion come and I turned to my mama friends walking behind me and said "I think I am going to cry?". When I looked back again, Portia was gone. She made a beeline for the front door and stood there so excited she hovered above the ground. She was closer to the door than the school Principal who had to open it when the bell rang. My tears receded, unshed.
I watched her curly head and the green of her beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack bob around as she waited for the school bell to ring. I mentally patted myself on the back for stepping on my own desire to deck her out in gender appropriate pink. She wants a stereotypical boy backpack? Yeah, I can be cool with that. I’m growing so much parenting these children. I’m surprised by how I think and react, often deciding to change my mind, my parenting, from my first reaction. It is an adventure of change.
At after school pick up I was anxious. I paced and stood about six different places. I was so eager to see Portia, to hear about school. I wanted to make sure she could see me. I didn't want her to feel overlooked or forgotten. When the bell rang, she came out. She saw me and then just gave me the 'cool wave'. You know, the subtle, embarrassed, low and close to the body wave a mortified teenager might offer a clingy mom? Yeah, my five year old gave me that. And kept walking! Not towards me.
She had her eye on some older boys heading for the buses. The boys were playfully slinging their backpacks at each other as she watched.
You know how you raise your kid, and you wonder what will stick when they are out in the world on their own? I'm kind of strict. I am proud of the way my children behave most days. I'm a little controlling and I like nice manners. They help around the house and all of that. That first day of kindergarten I learned what would happen when Portia was cut loose: MAYHEM!
I watched as Portia with a gleam in her eye followed the boys and slid her backpack off her back. My sweet daughter grinned and ignored me as she tried to hit the last of the playing boys with her Ninja Turtle backpack.
I was first embarrassed to see her hit a kid. (Or try--she totally missed.) But I was also proud of my tough girl who thought playing with the big boys was on her daily plan. I delighted in the focused, engaged intent in her eyes as she joined in their game. She didn't act the way I wanted her too, but maybe her way was better. I was a proud mama. I did correct her later at home. I reminded her that she is Portia Novak no matter where she goes and she knows the right way to behave. She is growing. She is not at my lunch table any more, but I look forward to hearing her stories about who is. Maybe we can sing musical style about it?