I don’t know about you guys, but every year the first day of school kind of breaks my heart a little bit. This year is especially difficult for me, because my Cakesie Jane started kindergarten.
Cakes is a gregarious, outgoing girl. She’s always busy, and she loves social activities, although, like me, she is more comfortable with just one special friend, rather than a large crowd. I know she’ll love the social aspect of school, but at the same time, life has always been harder for Cakes. Transitions are difficult, and adjustments to her routine take longer. She was the only one of our kids who cried when left in the church nursery, and clung to my leg every day during her first week of swimming lessons. In some ways, she’s much braver than Bee, but she has fears, too. For example, all summer long she fretted about the automatic toilets at school because she’s terrified of them. She also worried about rest time, because she needs to rock her head back and forth to fall asleep, and what if the other kids think that’s weird?
Through the years, she’s been my most exasperating kid at times, and my sweetest, funniest kid at others. I’ve always said that there are no lukewarm feelings where Cakes is concerned, no even keel, no middle ground. Either you’re laughing hysterically at her antics, or you’re really, really MAD at her antics, or your heart is breaking with sadness for her because she’s hurt, or worried, or scared. I don’t know how to explain it, really, but there’s just something about that kid.
She wants to be a big girl, and do all the things her sister does, but she also needs for me to tuck her in every night. She doesn’t want to need me, and yet of all the kids, I think she needs me the most. Last week, I was outside taking clothes off the line because a severe storm was brewing, complete with thunder, lightning and a threatening sky. Cakes had just learned about the dangers of lightning, and the whole time I was rushing around, trying to get clothes into the basket, she was yelling, “Mommy! Mommy!” I thought she was worried about her bike, and sidewalk chalk, and other stuff left laying, in traditional fashion, all over the yard, so I said, “I don’t have time to get your stuff right now, Cakes! I have to get these clothes in before they get wet!” And she replied, “I’m not worried about my stuff! I’m worried about you, Mommy! What if you get hit by lightning?! What if you DIE?!”
Cakes is a worrywart, and while she doesn’t let on, I know she’s worried about being away from me all day. And I’m worried too – after all, she’s just a little girl. What if she needs help making her way through the lunchroom? What if she needs to go to the bathroom…will she be brave enough to tell her teacher? What if she gets lost? If she’s scared or hurt, will somebody give her a hug?
Is she OK? Does she miss me? Is she having fun?
If I’m being honest with you, much of my worry and sadness is not for Cakes, but for myself. Did I really make the most of the time I had at home with her? Because now she’ll spend the majority of her day in the care of another woman, who is very kind and gentle, but who is not me….and maybe I’m a little bit jealous. Because I can’t get those 5 years back. I can’t take back all the times I was impatient and yelled at her, all the times she wanted me to play and I put her off. All the opportunities that I might have missed….
Does she know that I’m so proud of her?
Most importantly, does she know just how very much I love her? She is my one and only Cakes…and I’m going to need a big box of tissues today.