We walk into the big building. Right above the park, overlooking the water. River chants:”Mommy school!” I nervously remind her that it’s our school. We both are attending school now. I quietly freak out.
School shouldn’t be such a big deal right? But it is for me.
I want to always be her protector. I’ve seen too much hurt and too much pain not to be there for her. For about three years she’s been with me. Whether it be in my belly growing strong and mighty, or whether it be by my side learning the subway routes like train conductors. She’s been with me. As I have with her. It’s all I’ve known as a parent. How to be there-always.
We take the elevator to the third floor. River chants some more, I oblige and join in her chants. We both start to laugh. Upon entering there are walls full of smiling kids in photos. We are greeted with a smile and directed to fill out papers. River eagerly jumps out of her stroller, no longer reminiscent of a toddler, but of a little lady.
She dashes for the table maze.
As time goes on River explores more of what is to be her school. I call for her but she’s too busy looking for more toys. I, too busy sorting through my nerves laugh and search for my girl. Only to find her attempting to join into an ongoing class.
To speak bluntly, I am not sure what I am fearful of. My nerves have no actual grounds or reasoning as River walks up and introduces herself to other new kids. She grabs their hands and leads them to the maze that is securely set to be the cornerstone of budding friendships.
The longer we stay, the longer River gets more comfortable. She starts to refer to everything in the possessive tense. “River’s school mommy?” “River’s potty mommy?” Yes and yes. She speaks confidently of new “fwens.” And despite my warnings, she charges on to play with these “friends” who are actively in class. I grab her hand and try my best to explain the rules to her.
In that moment, all my fears were shut away until the next big milestone. I realized that she is ready. No, I am not. But she is. That’s what’s most important. She’s eager to make new friends, learn, and grow. As her mother and as her protector this scares me, but as her mother and as her protector I have to let her do it. This is all a part of this journey we all partake in.