My son’s preschool shares a parking lot with the elementary school where he will be attending Kindergarten next year.
On the last day of preschool, my (soon to be non) preschooler and I parked and headed in for the end of the year festivities. He carried a bundle of roses to give to his teachers.
The “big school” kids were outside on the playground playing soccer and three of them were standing at the fence near our parking spot. They had kicked their soccer ball over the fence into the lot and they asked us (very politely, I was impressed) to throw their ball back over the fence.
My little guy, so very much wanting to be “cool” in front of the big kids, gave me his roses, ran, grabbed the ball and sprinted over to the fence. He turned to me and asked in a very meek and quiet voice, “Mom, can I throw it back to them?”
He tried once but couldn’t get it over the fence. He tried a second time, but it just bounced right back to us. Next, I tried to lift him up so he would be higher but he still couldn’t get it over the fence.
Thankfully, the big kids were patient enough to indulge a little five year old’s futile attempts to impress.
In the end, he handed it to me and I threw it over the fence. He took back the roses and we turned and walked down to his school for the last time.
And as I watched him skip ahead, I couldn’t help but smile.
Generally speaking, when something significant happens to me or around me, I don’t realize its significance until well after the happening.
But this time, standing in that parking lot, I knew this was a moment. One of those magical, metaphorical moments.
This is a big year for my big kid. He’s taking a big step. And making a big change.
He wants so badly to be on that other side of the fence.
And there are parts of me that want to see him there too.
I’m excited for him. I’m ready for him to take this step and I know he’s ready and excited too.
But there are other parts of me that want to keep him on this side. Sometimes I look at him and just can’t see past the six-pound bundle in the hospital cap and blue and white blanket.
In my head, I know he’s moved on. But in my heart, he’s still a baby.
And I still love and cling onto all of those sweet little kid nuances that remind me of that baby.
Like how he loves his new swim team suit because it’s “sparkly.” And how he is fascinated by hidden cup-holders, dragon kites and hot air balloons. He still says “free” instead of “three.” Band-Aids cure every single ailment and if Band-Aids aren’t available, a lollipop will do the trick. He still wants his mom when he is sad, scared or shy. Monsters are real. But so is Santa. And every night he prays for his family, his friends, the zoo and the museum. He still loves to cuddle and he thinks I’m the prettiest girl in the world. And he doesn’t care how he looks carrying a bundle of roses.
And I know this next step is inevitable. And I know this next step is exciting. And I know that there will be bigger and more important steps after this one.
Because it’s all about taking steps. And climbing fences.
Because that’s how we grow.
And I absolutely love watching him grow. I love watching him take steps and climb fences.
But every so often, it’s nice to be reminded of that tiny babe. And that’s what I see when I see he’s still a little too little to throw the ball over the fence.
Because soon enough he’ll be on the other side. And he’ll be the one asking some other mom for his ball back.
I just hope he says please and thank you.