Captain Bravo has always been a little wary of heights.
“Will you help me?” he would ask as he stood at the bottom of the ladder at the playground.
“I want you to do it on your own.” I would always tell him. “When you feel comfortable, you will be able to do it.”
And this summer, he climbed some of those intimidating climbs and slides. He was ready and did it. All on his own.
His smile of accomplishment is a thing of beauty, let me tell you.
Monday was his first day of preschool.
We stood in the hallway outside the door and I tried to convince Captain Bravo that he was going to have fun.
“I want you to stay with me.”
The walls were covered with colourful signs of welcome. The door stood open and there was excitement and bustle within as children got settled and said goodbye to their parents.
“Remember?” I tried to keep my voice as steady as a surgeon’s hand. “At preschool, moms and dads say goodbye for a little while so you can play with the other boys and girls.”
“But I want you to stay with me.” His voice was not steady.
Could he tell that my heart wanted so much to say, “Of course! Of course, I’ll stay. I won’t leave you.”?
But I let my head win.
“I know you do. But you will have fun. I will be close by and I will pick you up in a little while. “
His sad face is heartbreaking, let me tell you.
I hugged him goodbye and left him to be comforted by his lovely teachers. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. I did not turn around because he would have seen that I was crying, too.
A few people were still outside the door, peeking in on their little ones. They greeted me with sympathetic smiles as I passed.
I cried in the hallway as he cried in the classroom.
The separation felt hard to me. Captain Bravo and I are always together. “I always like being with you,” he had said as he tried to convince me.
And my mothering heart wanted to win. Because this letting go was so hard.
But then my mothering head had quietly insisted, just like it does on the playground.
It is for the best.
It will make it easier next year, when he is at school all day.
Sometimes you have to fly on your own, Captain.
I need to step back and let him decide to climb the ladder; I need to let him stretch his wings.
I watched him through the tinted doorway. He wiped his eyes and nose as I wiped my own.
Then his tears stopped. And he watched.
And slowly, very slowly, he started to talk. He sat down. He played.
And that smile? It was a thing of beauty, let me tell you.
Has separation been hard for your children – or for you? Is it still?
and with Shell from Things I Can’t Say for Pour Your Heart Out