This week's RemembeRED prompt from The Red Dress Club was to write about affection.
Our Morning GoodbyeIt’s a hot September morning. The boys grumble because I’ve forced them to wear “church clothes” to school. They’d much rather be in tee shirts emblazoned with Sponge Bob or Star Wars characters and athletic shorts. It’s the first day of school—only one of two days that I insist the boys wear a shirt with a collar and khaki shorts or pants. The other day is school picture day. I’m sure they’ll grumble when that day comes too.
I take a snap shot before the boys leave for school and we head up the hill to the bus stop. They race ahead of me, their green and blue L.L. Bean backpacks bouncing along. We arrive with a few other neighborhood families. The moms ask each other about their summers and try to keep the kids from getting grass stains on their new clothes. The kids play and compare their new sneakers.
The yellow bus comes around the corner. “Here comes the bus,” I call to my boys who have wondered off to investigate the ants on the sidewalk. James jumps up, runs and plants a kiss on my cheek so quickly I can barely feel it and races to the front of the line to board the bus. Owen goes more slowly. He gives me a hug, we kiss each other’s cheeks and he climbs the steps of the bus. He turns towards me and waves. I blow him a kiss. He catches it and puts his hand over his heart then blows one to me. I catch the kiss and place it on my heart.
We perform this goodbye ritual every day at the bus stop (and again at bedtime). The bus can’t leave until it’s complete. There are days when I am in a hurry or feeling stressed and I can’t help but feel impatient for him to just give me a peck on the cheek and hurry on his way. But I know these days are numbered. Plenty of kids younger than him walk away from their parents without a backward glance. Next Thursday is the last day of third grade for Owen. How long will my sweet boy take the time to give me a multilayered goodbye? On my better days I remember that our morning farewell is a blessing.
Yesterday morning I had to hurry home to meet an appliance repairman at the house. I was nervous that he would arrive before I returned from the bus stop.
“I’m going to start walking back home as soon as the bus stops.” I tell my boys.
“You aren’t even going to say goodbye?” Owen asks me.
“Of course I’m going to say goodbye. I’ll just have to make it a quick goodbye.”
“We better do it now then,” he insists. He hugs me, kisses me and blows me a kiss. I catch it and place it over my heart.