First Day of School is For the Birds

Dear Micah,

As September hit and the weather cooled, back-to-school season was upon us. For our family, it was not BACK-to-school but the START of your first school ever.

You will get to know this about me soon: I am needlessly rebellious. Too much of anything and I run the other way. I try to act macho during movies, for instance, while the entire theater is bawling, or worse yet, I ask my girlfriends or your daddy if they cryin’.

So, as 09.09 approached, and I heard more buzz about school, school, school and so many First Day of School pictures all over Facebook, I may have started to rebel, without fully realizing it. Of course I filled out your many school forms ahead of time and prepared a shoebox full of items that your school requested but other than that, I wanted to go against the grain and make a smaller deal about you going off to your very first school ever, after hanging with Mommy nearly everyday since you arrived on Thanksgiving Day 2010.

We went on another trip this weekend to Miss J’s wedding. You were excited because you now have a taste for hotels, hotel pools, eating at restaurants for every meal, and sleeping with your entire family within touching distance. Our family partied hard at that very special wedding, your first taste of dancing on a dark dance floor with crazy adults who like to get down. Daddy and I changed you and Ellis into your pajamas for the long drive home, the night before your first day.

Upon returning late at night, I felt cool for not making this First Day thang too big. We weren’t at home marinating in it all weekend.

I didn’t even decide what you were going to wear until minutes before we left the house. I put you in a Montel Williams-looking Nehru-collared sky blue shirt with grey jeans and used one of your markers to make a “First Day of School” sign for pictures.

And we were off. Mama started strolling you (just you today, no Ellis). With the shoebox full of a change of clothes, tissues, underwear and a snapshot of you. (I apologize if anyone thinks your name is Anne Klein. It’s not like your friends can read anyhow.)

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To get to your school, we started on the same 17-minute stroll we had done a countless number of times to get to the library, your friend K’s apartment, and your playground.

I had been talking to you about school for months now. How your friend, A, is already there and how you’re going to have so much fun and how Mommy and Ellis will pick you up just in time for lunch. Maybe this wasn’t the big deal others were making it out to be?

But during this very ordinary walk, Mama started feeling an extraordinary welling up inside. Like a volcano’s rumble. Or a bloodstain growing larger and larger on white cloth.

I tried to get real macho, real fast.

As I strolled you, I looked down at you with your skinny neck and spiky hair, sitting there with your clear, wide eyes, observing the world as you always do, acting like you ain’t never been a no-necked, rolly baby. You asked about the ongoing construction and the men doing the work. “Mommy, they working today? They fixing street again?” Our usual topics of conversation.

And then a bunch of sparrows flew around us and sat down in a row on the porch of a building we always pass by.

Oh, Micah, those birds. They just about did Mommy in. Mommy wanted to sit down in the middle of the street and do the Korean drama wail, wrapping a white cloth around my head like a proper wailing Korean mama.

Do you know why those birds are so special to us?

Mommy’s Mommy, your grandma, used to walk Mommy to school, telling me how the chahm-sehs (sparrows) were flying and chirping just for me, Nature’s perfect escorts to kindergarden.

Fast forward to now, and this gang of sparrows was also chirping just for you as you went off to school with YOUR Mommy.

They had watched us walk this very walk when you were just a few months old and we had already endured about eight major snowstorms. Mommy was nervous about taking you out on the slippery sidewalks that weren’t paved completely but when she did, she was so happy to stroll you around, getting both of us fresh air into our lungs. Feeling so accomplished. Feeling like maybe she can do this motherhood thang even with the mood-crushing weather and no family around.

Mommy had asked her friends what I should do for you, other than nap you and feed you and change your many diapers. They told her to just show you around and talk to you. So Mommy would tell you what she saw on the walk, including the snowed in sidewalks and the birds who wanted to see Micah in his stroller.

Mommy had been rebellious up until this very morning because you going to school WAS a huge deal and I didn’t trust the floodgates to come crashing down. I find myself doing that these days, Micah, not being able to cry because there might be too much in there.

Whether I made a big deal of it or not, here we were. So many moments flashing before my eyes. All the sweet “i wuv you, Mommy” moments, not the moments where Mommy has a pool of urine and chicken broth in her Crocs from an eventful afternoon.

I love you so much that if I pause to think about just how much, I feel like my heart will stop. I still cup your smooth face in my little hands, just like I did when you arrived brand new. I just can’t believe you were the little blueberry in my womb.

And I have to admit, it’s been REALLY HARD as you are not a baby any more and you want to do things your way.

You drive me crazy some days, when you don’t listen, and I have gotten so frustrated after how many spills and how many times you ask me for something after I tell you “No!” But you will always be my scrawny newborn who ballooned into a big-cheeked Gloworm, then became a sweet big brother at 22 months old. My firstborn. My baby.

Always remember that birds chirped just for you today as I took you to your first school, though sometimes, they sure did sound like they were chirping, “You ain’t hward, you ain’t hward!” in Mommy’s direction. Mommy got too verklempt to point it out during the walk, so here it is in print.

I still haven’t been able to cry but maybe your Mommy is growing up, too. Or the volcano will erupt next week when Orientation week is over.

P.S. I forgive you for asking if there was a baby in Mommy’s belly last week. I hope you can forgive me for greater offenses, like yelling at you and saying I want to be back at the office because you won’t listen. God bless you while you are at school. You’re all mine again after a few hours each morning. I love you to the moon and back.

my li'l Montel:  don't blow up my spot, ma!

my li’l Montel: don’t blow up my spot, ma!

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7 thoughts on “First Day of School is For the Birds

  1. I love the part about the sparrows singing for you and then for Micah on the way to school! I got all teary-eyed and choked up. So sweet. It really makes you consider how beautifully poetic life is. We go from being the little one walking to school one day to walking our very own little one to school.

  2. Sorry I took so long to read this….it was truly a lovely piece.
    Thank you for capturing all the angst and love in one bottle.
    I feel you on the pretending things don’t bother to hide the
    fact that they do….that has been most of my life…

    So thanks again

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