It's the most wonderful time of the year

As some of you may remember, approximately one year ago today, I carried Rowan, all hysterical 40 pounds of him, the four blocks to his new school and delivered him in a shuddering, tear-stained heap to his junior kindergarten classroom.

And although it didn’t take him long to acclimatize, and although he grew to love school, love his teacher, love his friends, love – like Lilly in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse – the chocolate milk at lunchtime, shades of that first morning still haunt me, have taunted me for the past couple weeks as a new school year approached.

Rowan seemed all gung ho about SK, but of late he had been balking whenever we mention it. “I’m not going to school,” he announced recently. “I’m not going on the bus. I’m just staying home with you.”

We’ve been quietly working to subtly shift his attitude. He has been somewhat mollified by the promise of a granola bar in his lunch on the first day, the fact that there will be a train table in his new classroom, the fact that we have a birthday party to attend right after class today. Still, this morning, as far as I was concerned, was a crapshoot. I was totally prepared for him to get on the bus, happy as a clam – and I was equally prepared (well, as prepared as one can be for such events) for a bloodbath.

 And?

We waited outside, the tension mounting as yellow school bus after yellow school bus drove on by, until finally his arrived, the door opened, and … the sun shone its smiling face down upon me and my boy as he climbed aboard, smiling, and waved goodbye. I think I caught a flicker of doubt cross his face just as the doors closed, but he sat down, and the bus pulled away, and I got all weak in the knees and couldn’t stop grinning.

And then he got to school just fine. His “bus buddy,” a tiny fifth-grade girl, delivered him to his locker and then to the senior kindergarten courtyard, where he dropped his bag and went off to play. I know all this because Rachel, Isaac – Isaac, who spent the morning chanting, plaintively, “I want to take the bus!” – and I followed the bus on foot and spied on Rowan as he made his journey.

We’ll do the same this afternoon as he buses to his babysitter’s. If you think we’re being overprotective, just remember that on my first day of Grade 1, my carpool driver – Mrs. Miller, my parents’ trusted friend – forgot me at school.

But! What a difference a year makes.