I almost didn't go, having sung and danced this routine before. It was my ninth back-to-school night there. Same classrooms, same teachers. The same core group of women have raised my babies from infants to readers, from burp cloths to flying leaps. I knew what they'd say, and a sweep of gratitude and nostalgia made me once more want to hear them say it.
Today I spent the day with G, as his school and my work were closed for Columbus Day. The other three had regular days and next year he'll go off as well, this day no longer ours, just mine. And oh I'll sleep and sip coffee and hug my solitude. But beginning with that evening in the classroom last week I was shoved into a small panic that this is the beginning of littleness's end.
I gave G his bath. He sits in bubbles so thick they fly when he blows. They cling in his crevices, folds of baby fat sure one day soon to melt away forever, and he plays naked and happy, oblivious, having no want for privacy or solitude, only that I hand him another toy and bargain again three more minutes until hair washing. The girls take showers now. And of course they do, but, oh.
He asked me to tie his shoes and then he asked me to switch my shoes so they might match his and then he stomped in a rain puddle because that's what four-year-olds do and then his feet were wet and he wanted to change his shoes and then he wanted me to change mine. He called our day an all-day date and how cute that he wanted us to match and it won't be much longer, I'm sure, that he wants us to match. It was our last Columbus Day together, but it was last week, back-to-school night, that knocked me askew.