Last night Rachel dreamt that she and Rowan were boarding a plane together, only when she took her seat he was nowhere to be found. “I tried all kinds of things to stop the plane, but to no avail,” she says. “Last thing I remember we were heading for the runway and I was convinced Rowan was in the luggage compartment, or worse.”
Welcome to Rowan’s first day of junior kindergarten.
Things started auspiciously enough, when he wandered into our room at 7 a.m. and said, “Buenos dias! Good morning, Mamas!”
But then, once he realized that today was the first day of school, it kind of went downhill. He spent much of the morning in tears, trying to convince us not to send him. In the end, I carried all 40 pounds of him the four blocks to his school, him mostly wailing along the way. Neighbours drove by in their minivans and honked and waved and smiled mournfully at us. The playground monitor shook her head kindly but knowingly.
When we got to the classroom, he calmed down a bit, and began to explore. He even played for a while with another kid, every so often letting out a post-meltdown shudder. By the time the teacher got the boys and girls (my son has entered the realm of being addressed as “Boys and girls”) to sit down, cross-legged, on the circular carpet, he was red-eyed but mildly interested. I felt kind of bad for his lovely teacher, surrounded by a gaggle of innocent three- and four-year-olds — and then a wider circle of anxious, hovering, camera-toting parents. “Could you all sit down?” she asked us. “I’m feeling a bit intimidated.”
The kids went on a tour of the school, checking out their own private playground, the gym, the library, the computer room. Poor Rowan tried to grab the hand of a little girl as they walked, but she stuck her hand behind her back. I saw him smile as the teacher got all the JKs to run “as fast as you can!” to the end of the gym and back. He wandered all over the library by himself, and skipped back to the group. As we circled back to the classroom, he started looking for the locker with his name on it. And then they all sat down and read a story about a little raccoon’s first day of school. They practiced jumping up and down five times. And Rachel and I slipped out of the room quietly. And I tried to calm the tide of rising nausea in my stomach.
We came home to Isaac, jolly as could be, hanging out with über-babysitter Clair, who was just about to take him on a walk. Shortly after they left, the phone rang. I grabbed it. It was Clair, on her cell. She had walked to the school to see what intelligence she could gather, and had talked to a set of parents just leaving. “They said that Rowan was fine. His eyes were a little red, but he was playing with another kid.”
So Rowan is gonna be okay. He isn’t going to be his classmate Owen, who skipped into the room by himself, raised his hand, and proudly told the room that that was what you did when you wanted to talk while the teacher was talking. Owen, whose mom showed up halfway through the tour, carrying a coffee. “Yeah,” she said, “he came by himself on the bus this morning so I followed later on.”
But Rowan doesn’t have to be Owen. Rowan is Rowan, and he will be fine — good, great, wonderful, even — at school. And we get to go pick him up in two hours. Keep me company until then.