Did you happen to see this welcome-back the Defiance Elementary School students got Wednesday, on the first day of classes?
I came across some photos of the big day on the district’s Facebook page, and saw a video somewhere online, too, and you know, the whole scenario just warmed the frozen cockles of my heart. They had the Defiance High School band and cheerleaders out there, welcoming all the little guys and gals as they came off the bus with their big backpacks, backpacks that still had about seven minutes left before becoming total disasters full of stratified layers of crud.
For the most part, the incoming pupils all looked much, much happier than I would have expected them to look on the first day of school, the day summer dies. If part, or all, of the horn section could commit to welcoming me into the office twice weekly, I suspect my overall outlook and mood would rapidly change for the better. There’s an additional lifting of the spirits that takes place when I consider how my co-workers might perceive the whole “there’s an emotional-support horn section in the newsroom” thing... I’d ask my editor if we could consider it a business expense, but, at time of writing, he looks busy with something that isn’t completely ridiculous...
Yet, across town Wednesday morning, an entirely different scene was unfolding in the gymnasium of my son’s preschool. Despite a distinct lack of horns, it was loud. On the first day of preschool, there’s a largely shared misconception among the newly minted students that they are being abandoned. It’s heartbreaking. All around, you’ve got parents and caregivers, crouched down, trying to explain to 4-year-olds that they are not, in fact, being abandoned. It takes some time, but eventually they come around. The wailing subsides. You will return. This will be fun. All is well. There are snacks here.
At this point, the parent has made it halfway to the door, when perhaps a younger brother or sister notices for the first time that their sibling is, in fact, being abandoned. A second round of wailing ensues.
Now, my son wails all the time, about all manner of things. He wails about the food he has, and the food he does not. He wails when he doesn’t want to go to bed, when he does, and when he does but thinks he doesn’t. He wails when his sister is either over- or under-involved in the goings-on of his life. He wails about having his hair combed.
I trust he won’t wail about everything forever. My daughter wailed at his age, but she broods now, which is, if nothing else, quieter.
But on Wednesday, he neither wailed, nor brooded. He walked straight to one of the cafeteria table, sat down, and, more or less, advised me that I was free to go.
“So... you can go now.”
Those words exactly. If he were, in fact, being abandoned, he wasn’t all too concerned about it. I stood there waiting for something, something that didn’t seem to be happening. Slowly, I started backing toward the exit. It couldn’t possibly be this easy? There’d be at least some wailing that occurred, right? Some sort of... pout indicating you hope to actually reunite with me, your loving mother, at some point in the future? I kept backing up.
As I exited the gymnasium, I didn’t know whether to have a wail myself, or laugh. What I could have used though, without a doubt, was a horn section, if not the better part of a whole band. Everyone out there could have. Just a suggestion, for next year...