I remember bringing my son home from the hospital, this huge, nearly 10-pound baby who terrified me, but also filled my heart with a ridiculous amount of love.
I remember his first time trying food, his first cold, his first steps. … These certainly aren’t memories that were lost to me, but they are ones that don’t typically run on a photo slide show through my mind, especially at 7:30 a.m. before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee. But it’s not every day that your only child starts Pre-K. For weeks I have been preparing him for what he calls "big kid school." He’s seemed unfazed, but I anticipated that would change Friday when things got real. When I asked him if I could take a camera into the school to take his picture in his classroom, he informed me that I was "going to embarrass him."
He was cranky at the thought of a picture before school, and annoyed that I had to wake him up an hour before his regular wake-up time. What he wasn’t was sad or scared. The ride to school was uneventful and filled with phone calls from his Grammy and his Daddy wishing him well and reminding him to act right.
I figured the tears would come when we started into the school, me loaded down like a pack mule with various bags of supplies, clutching his hand. The fact that I was clutching a little tighter was not lost on me. It seemed almost like Colin was holding my hand, instead of the other way around.
Mr. I Hate Pictures was gracious, and posed with a smile for a WSB reporter who was snapping some first-day shots at the front of the school. He walked through those front doors, and down the hallway like a man with a plan, no worries, merely glancing at the boys and girls crying in front of classroom doors, and those being given obvious pep talks by parents in the hallways. In my mind things were playing like a movie montage, remembering all the times I guided my son: through childhood milestones, strep throat and ear infections, and a divorce that knocked the air out of both of us for a few months. And here he was, guiding me into his elementary school.
This couldn’t be normal behavior for a Mommy. I looked at the other parents, wondering if they were thinking the same thoughts I was, if they were remembering their children as babies and trying not to cry.
We walked into his classroom and Mrs. Studdard, my son’s first "big kid school" teacher, took over, guiding my son to a table. After a quick kiss and a hug, his attention was elsewhere, and I was left standing in the classroom, watching my son transform from my little baby into my little boy.
I walked back through the hallways of Middle Ridge in a daze, trying to keep it together. My bottom lip poked out and my eyes welled up. As I walked outside and headed toward my car, the principal, Mr. Forehand, asked me how it went. He took a look at my face and said something that I will probably never forget and something I needed to hear so very badly: "We’ll take good care of him."
And I knew they would. I knew they would take care of my baby, that Mr. Forehand and Mrs. Studdard and every other person in that school would look out for my baby, and that he would be OK.
And I would, too.
Of course, because I was a mess, I forgot to give his teacher his lunch money and had to go back in. Colin looked at me and said he wanted to go home, but went right back to his coloring when I told him he had to stay.
No tears, no yelling, just back to the business of being a big kid at school. Of course, I sent an email to his teacher that afternoon, asking about his day.
The fact that his teacher said he was "very smart and follows directions" puffed me up — and made me wonder if maybe there was another Colin in her class, since mine rarely follows my directions without some sassy lip. She might tell all the parents that, but I’m going to assume my kid is special, because that’s my job as a Mommy, to be his biggest cheerleader and the president of his fan club. So now my kid is in elementary school. We’ve made it through midnight feedings, through illness, through potty training and divorce, and now we’ve made it through this.
We’re rocking this whole Mommy and Colin thing, and we’ll make it through other things as well.
It’s pretty humbling to know that this awesome little boy whom I guide can now guide me through some tough times as well. My fierce little baby is becoming a fiercely independent little boy, who will — I now know without a doubt — become a fantastic man one day. I saw glimpses of that Friday, and I couldn’t have been more proud of Colin, and of myself.
Now if I can just get a start-of-school photo without all the attitude, we’ll be doing great.
One milestone at a time.
Amber Pittman is Editor of Electronic Media at The Covington News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org