This week marks Declan's official graduation from his fear of the schoolyard playground. Gone are the days of him pestering me to walk with him all the way to his class line and wait until the bell rings. Yes, it is true, I did encourage him each morning to partake in the bustling whirlwind of activity around us and overcome his reluctancy to join the other children, but that doesn't mean I can't mourn the loss, for the both of us.
He has eaten from that mysterious tree known as "morning playtime" and has forever been changed by the experience. Maybe that's a little bit melodramatic, but it made me feel better.
Sadly, we are both growing up and the process has not gone unnoticed by Declan either. One evening at bedtime last week he looked up at me and said, "I don't want to grow up. I just want to stay little and be with you." I couldn't bring myself to say anything in response, other than to let him know that I agreed with him as I gave him an especially big hug that ended with tickling. In case you were unaware, the most effective way to change the subject when conversing with your 6-year-old is tickling.
I noticed some time ago that we were gradually beginning to part company sooner and sooner each morning. I must have been resisting it subconsciously, as I came to realize that I was the one dragging my feet on graduating past the process. Declan began recognizing his friends and would want to run off into the playground and I would stop him and say "wait until we get around the corner."
Now, he literally drags me in a mad rush each morning from our car to the fence opening at the edge of the schoolyard. I make him stop, hug me goodbye, and look me in the eye as we tell each other to have a great morning.
I am unwilling to part company any sooner than that and will fight to keep that as our minimum standard until the end of this school year, secretly conceding to myself that there is little hope that practice will survive into his First Grade school year.
You hear people say it repeatedly throughout your life, thousands of times even, trying over and over to prepare you as a parent for the inevitable heartache, "they grow up so fast."
Since we are incapable of stopping time, I will simply have to be content with my one moment each morning, stopping my little man and forcing the eye contact as we smile and tell each other to have a great day.
Perhaps, if I am stubborn or persistent enough that tradition will stick around for a few years. Considering all the complaining I do about Declan's stubbornness and the mischief he causes because of it, there is hope that I would be capable of such a feat. After all, he had to get at least a small portion of that from his father, right?