New shoes today. New endings before new beginnings.
At 6:00 I walked into the preschool classroom. L ran, as always, right into my arms. It is so gratifying to be loved by that girl. Her new shoes sparkled her path toward me. Light-up shoes. "How do the teachers handle that?" the lovely husband asked when we brought them home. They're not what I would have selected but she's a big girl now and thusly rewarded with a measured dose of making her own choices. And all her old friends, she reported, loved her new shoes.
She packed her backpack with the rest of her food from her fridge, like usual, while I gathered the items I usually gather from her cubby. Her daily report, her blanket that comes home for washing every Friday, completed artwork and projects. I gathered her brother's same items. I took the gift bags piled into the small space, goodbye presents from teachers who have loved her, thanks first to her sister and then to her own credit, since before she was even born. And then I took more, peeling her presence off the preschool space: her extra clothes from the bottom basket, old hair clips, rocks she'd saved. Stickers. A chapstick. Dried flower petals and a braided grass bracelet. A bottle cap. Ephemera of a happy childhood. I spun slowly around the room, pulling down her rainbow painting and her pompom caterpillar, her popsicle stick rowboat and her birthday flag from the birthday chart. I ended where I started. I pulled her portrait and name tag off of her cubby, slowly that she might save them if she wanted them, that they wouldn't rip.
She was dancing a celebratory goodbye parade with friends and teachers. She wasn't paying any attention to my actions, enveloped in love and well wishes. But her brother was watching and he was outraged. What are you DOING? he protested as he tried to re-stick her name tag to her vacated cubby.
"L doesn't need her name there anymore. She doesn't go to school here anymore," I told him quietly. The first real recognition crossed his eyes. He screamed and stomped and tried to stop me, then tried to peel his name, too, and told me he was also ready for his new school. It was my turn to stop him, as I gently pressed his name back into place.
"Yours stays, sweetie."
NO! he yelled. But I'm big, too!
I tried to console him and I tried to cajole him and L's new shoes jumped with joy straight out the door.