I’ve been flooded with a strange mixture of bittersweet nostalgia and excitement this week as classes begin in our area public schools. Seeing friends from Oakwood post their first day of school pictures and comments has taken me back to this time last year, when we were new to this stunningly picturesque, close-knit Dayton community full of hope for Luke’s first year in public school. We dressed him in new clothes for his first day of Kindergarten, helped him into a stiff, new backpack, walked the tree-lined streets with dozens of other parents and marveled at how the whole town comes out for the start of school. The excitement in the air was palpable. I remember standing in the schoolyard, my heart swelling with pride as Luke emerged with his class from the building, having completed roll call, walking single file to board the yellow school bus. In Oakwood, only Kindergarteners ride the bus. It is a walking community beyond that, and we were so hopeful about our role as a family in this new place that day.
Fast forward one year, one move to Columbus, and one prettttty long story…
Pouring my second cup of coffee at 7:36 this morning, I glanced out my kitchen window to admire the way the sun makes the grass positively glow this time of morning. Just that detail cues my mind that it’s school time. I would be walking the boys to school now. I might even be dressed for work in the schools, myself. Instead, I feel a solid kick in my swollen belly and smile, imagining Elise doing her morning karate moves. I grab two slices of wheat bread and begin to make Joe’s sandwich for work. He’s in the shower. Luke is playing “My Singing Monsters” on the iPad upstairs, Seth is still sleeping. He’s always been our “later gator.” We don’t start homeschooling until the first of September. On the corner out front a mother stands with her son.
Waiting for the bus.
Sure enough, I hear the familiar roar of that old yellow behemoth as I spread almond butter on the bread, and by the time I look up, mom’s walking away and a single boy sits in the back row of the bus as it roars off. There would have been two boys on the bus today. This is where, and when, I would say goodbye to Luke for the day. I thought about our homeschool notification letter, still circulating in the mail as we just sent it out yesterday. Since we’re new, the school district probably doesn’t even realize we exist in the first place, but I felt a nervous twinge that we’re bucking the system or doing something we shouldn’t by not putting Luke on the bus, but I reminded myself that we had a choice, we made a choice, and we were allowed to do that. I don’t have to rush around this morning. I only have to pack one lunch – not two- and the mixed feelings I’m having, full of memory and duty and choice and bittersweetness and sadness and ecstatic joy just have to be normal for someone like me on a day like today.