Growing Pains

Dear Antonia,

This has been your first year riding the school bus.  Every morning, we talk about the day ahead as we watch out of the living room window for the bus to round the corner of the next street over.  We open the front door as quietly as possible so we don’t wake your brother, although, he usually is making his way down the stairs with his blankie as we turn the knob.  As we cross the street and walk several houses down, we hold hands and hug against the cold morning air.  These precious minutes are ours.  No matter how many times I have to nag you to “get dressed” or “put on your shoes”, or “hurry up!” –once we are out into the day, the morning chaos vanishes as we take in the scenes of our quiet street before the sun presses the start button on Today.

On this particular morning, you look up at me with your big, 6-and-a-half-year-old eyes and ask, “Mom?  Do you think I can wait for the bus by myself?”  I am not shocked by this question.  You have been testing your independence frequently in the last few weeks.  Just yesterday you managed to wear makeup and shoes with heels to church while I was at work; even though you knew these things are reserved for playing at home.  You ride the fence between wanting to be a little girl and wanting to be a grown up.  I am comforted by the fact that the grown-up moments are much fewer.  But they are increasing, quickly.  I am not shocked by your request, but I'm not ready for it either.

“Well, maybe that would be okay, but I have to look to see if I am able to watch you from the window.  If I can’t see you, I will have to walk to the end of the drive, but as long as I can see you, I am ok with you crossing the street and standing at the stop by yourself.”

You are silent for a moment, and then, “I don’t know, let me think about it. “ (Little Girl Moment)

We see the bus on the next street and open the door to walk outside.

“What do you want to do, Miss?”

As we near the end of the driveway, you turn and wrap your gangly arms around my waist in a hug.  “I can do it.  I love you, Mom!”

I tell you I love you and remind you to look both ways before crossing the street.  I watch your confident stride as you make your way to the bus stop.  We are facing each other now, on opposite ends of Sawmill Bend.  I can’t help but wave and smile.  You wave back.  I hear the bus travelling toward us and I feel a rush of something in my chest.  This is when we usually get one more hug and kiss in before you board that yellow school bus, before I hear Miss Barb bellow, “Good Morning, Nia!  How are you today?!”  I wave one more time, hoping you can see me before the bus separates our view of one another.  You see me, and wave back.  I can see your little feet underneath the bus, climbing the steps.  You did it (Grown-Up Moment).  Tears are sliding down my face, and I realize I did it too.