My cell phone rang towards the end of the boarding process. I was comfortably seated with a novel. I felt my phone vibrate. I saw it was Marc and answered it. His words — Ari, crying, hurt — busted loose and jumbled in my ear. As I absorbed what I was hearing, the flight attendant announced they were shutting the cabin doors and that cell phones needed to be turned onto airplane mode. I asked questions. I filled with anger — at the situation and at myself for being in Texas for work rather than there — and fear. I saw the flight attendant walking towards the back of the plane. Tears sprang to my eyes since I knew I had to hang up while my toddler son was hurting. I’d know nothing for over four hours while I flew back to the East Coast. There was nothing I could do but wait.
After weeks of trying to articulate how I feel about sending off Ari to Kindergarten, I realized that this was it. Dropping Ari off later this week is going to feel like the plane doors closing. I’ll know nothing until the late afternoon when he returns home.
You might think I would be less emotional since I’ve already sent one of my children off to school. I’ll be honest, I felt nothing but relief when I dropped Isabelle off at Kindergarten. I was puffy, exhausted, and sweltering since I was nine months pregnant when Isabelle started Kindergarten. I was on maternity leave and could spend the midday doing whatever I wanted for nearly eight hours a day. It was blissful (if I forget about the swelling, fatigue, and overheating)!
I know it’s time for Ari to go to school and for me to begin new projects like a podcast and drafting a new book. He’ll be disconnected from me for the first time in 28 months. And, honestly, it makes my heart ache.
It’s my hope the report Ari gives me at dismissal will be as hopeful as the one I received when my plane touched down on the tarmac a four summers ago.
19 thoughts on “A Member of the Class of 2035”
Your post is a reminder that our relationships with our children are unique–to them, and to our circumstances at their milestones. I hope Ari’s day will be a fabulous introduction to school, and that you breath a sigh of relief as you tuck him in that evening.
I hope so too, Chris. I almost cried when I read DEAR BOY to him tonight. I’m not a big crier so this is really a lot.
Ack- next steps can be so scary (and exciting). I hope it goes as smoothly as possible ffor all of you. When that airplane door closes it opens again to a new opportunity!
What a lovely way to look at it, Erika!
Love your title…hearing Class of 2035 makes me feel old.
Me too! (Especially since I just learned some Gen Z kids call the 1990s, “the late 1900s!” Ouch!)
Your post today resonated w/ me Stacey because I have an up, and down relationship w/my two kids (in terms of letting go of the past) and your words just really hit home. These milestones stay with us, and yours (on the plane) will stay with you. Thank-you for sharing this; I needed to hear it today.
Thanks for your kind words. They’ve touched me. I wrote this on Saturday night. It took me two days to have the courage to post it.
That airplane metaphor is so strong- that cavern of a school day where we have no eyes or ears, even though we have had our little ones with us almost constantly up to that goodbye (true for some, not all.) Anyway, you describe the feelings well as your child takes the next, necessary step in their developmental life- independence. I hope Ari is a child who will tell you things when he comes home!
I hope so too! I will be craving details!
You e crafted the perfect metaphor g go or the off to school w/ the baby transition. It’s hard! And while I have not had my own baby around in years, I now feel that closing door as I leave my new grandson alone w/ his parents. I’m sure they’re capable, but I have my doubts, and I’ve had such heartache this past week away from my baby grandson. This is worse than sending my children to school, so I feel your pain.
All of us have that thing that shakes us to our cores. It’s different for everyone. But when it happens. Oof.
I can’t imagine what you’re going through now, but I can imagine it’s overwhelming!
The children grow. It’s a given. We can’t change it. We can only work with our mindsets and feelings. I hope you all will find joy in this new phase of life.
Speaking of joy, I’m reading Christina Tosi’s book Dessert Can Save the World: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes for a Stubbornly Joyful Existence. I highly recommend it if you ever need a joy boost!
So long since I’ve had that transition, but the last one to leave for kindergarten, for college, to be on his one, that’s a milestone for them and for us. Sounds like you’ve filled your plate for the next course and Ari will too. I hope he has great fun.
His Kindergarten teacher is so lovely. I feel like it’s going to be a good year for him. Hopefully for all of us!
I can relate as a fellow mom of a 2035 student. I remember when Wren went to kindergarten (I was also on maternity leave), I couldn’t wait to pick her up. Once you know he’s happy, you’ll feel better. I’ll be thinking of you both. Kindergarten is the best!
I didn’t schedule enough for tomorrow. One call and one meeting. I may or may not compulsively check Seesaw looking for an update tomorrow. 🤪😬
The beauty is that he will come home with great stories that will fill you with joy. I always taught 4th but have been subbing in Kinder for a couple of years now and absolutely LOVE that age! A big step for mom and son, but a great one.