He ran to the school bus. His backpack is a bit heavy, so while he ran he teetered left toward the culvert due to the slope of the mountainside we live on. As he ran his hair bounced on the top of his head. He didn’t fall into the culvert and he didn’t stumble climbing the school bus steps. He was full steam ahead and smiling. He turned four years old four days ago and now he’s on the bus for his first day of school. He waved to us as the bus drove higher into the mountain.
And with him leaving I felt empty. Megan began to cry and said, “I didn’t think I would cry, but I am.”
I was Gavin’s full time care giver from 0-3 years of age. My career declined, I didn’t care. Still don’t. From 3-4 he did go to daycare three days a week. I had my little guy two days per week and recently we took him out of daycare so I could have him back, all to myself, before school started.
I didn’t have a father when I was his age.
From 0 to roughly six months was the most difficult for me. I’m not sure everything was always natural. Loving him was, and holding him and feeding him. Putting his clothes on was not. My fingers are too big for infant clothing and I would become frustrated when I couldn’t get his tiny arms or legs into the clothing. Especially if he was cold and I wanted him to be warm.
I remember many morning simply sitting on the living room floor with him in between my legs. I would sit and stretch my legs into a V and he would bounce around and roll and explore the best he could. Eventually he stood. I have a photo of the first time he grabbed onto a couch cushion and pulled himself into the standing position. It wasn’t long after that he was running and jumping off of the couch. Lots of time outs.
One morning, while changing him, he coughed so hard it sounded like a bark and he couldn’t catch his breath. A funny wheezing sound followed by a another barking cough and difficulty breathing; I thought I was losing him. I held him close to my chest to calm him. He seemed to be afraid an panicking. This was among the most scared I have ever been as a parent. I was alone and needed a doctor and the infant I was holding was in pain and badly sick. Croup with stridor, a double ear infection and a fever doesn’t bode well for small bodies. It hit so suddenly, the sickness, and with such force that I began to cry while dialing the doctors office. I told myself to calm down and I did, but it was hard to speak.
And just now we watched Gavin run, with his backpack on, toward the bus, which was parked on an incline, as he teetered toward the culvert and steamrolled his way onto the bus. Ready for his new chapter.
And I sit and write and relive the entire thing. Since day one.