Jessie is starting middle school this year. She’s riding a school bus for the first time, a completely new environment, new teachers, new students. Everything is different and strange, for both of us. Our last new school was five years ago, when she started kindergarten. She moved schools the following year, but she had her big sisters at Flagg, and we were already familiar with everything there.
It felt… just a tiny bit like that first day on kindergarten. I kept remembering it on the way home, how it felt when she lined up for the first time and her teacher led her off. She was so brave that day (Sam cried a lot harder than she did, he was straight out horrified that I was letting some stranger take her away). And I spent that day, five years ago, doing pretty much what I’m doing today. Going thru my day, laundry, dishes, rearranging, bath for the baby, and all the while wondering what she’s doing and who she’s with and if she’s smiling or scared.
(first day of second grade)
It strikes me that this is a milestone that I’ll remember. I don’t remember all of them. I remember the first time she walked, and can’t remember the first time she crawled. I remember the first time she said Dada and knew it meant Marc (but mainly because she was happily moaning Mama every time something bothered her with no idea that it meant me). I don’t remember the first time she made the connection between my name and me. I don’t remember the first time she had homework, or her first dance recital (I remember the first time she was supposed to go on-stage – I was eight months pregnant and when she wouldn’t go without me, we both cried). But seeing her climb on that bus, lugging fifteen pounds of binders and posterboard and a book to read just in case she didn’t have a buddy to sit with on the bus… that I’ll remember.
(First time doing her homework)
She held my hand yesterday, crossing the street to the shoe store. She doesn’t do that anymore. Part of it might because my hands are usually claimed by the other two, but most of it is that she doesn’t need me to keep her safe anymore. Not like that. It felt almost like she was being kind, taking my hand because she knew I wanted to hold hers. Her hand still fits in mine perfectly – Sam and Julie both have bigger hands, Jessie’s are these delicate little things, and they feel exactly the way they have for the past eleven years.
I’m not ready for my baby girl to grow up. I know she is, I know me being ready is not even slightly important to the process. And I love the girl she’s turning into – all long legs and gorgeous smile, smart and kind and thoughtful. But there’s a part of me that’s always going to be shocked and surprised by how fast she’s grown, and how much I wish I could turn back time and do it all again.