human, being

The scariest moment of my day
March 12, 2009, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Parenting & Co-Parenting | Tags: ,

I pull up to Lauren’s school, usually about 27 seconds before the bell rings. I double-park in the drop-off zone, turn on the blinkers and wait for her to gather her things and exit the car.

Me: “I love you! Have a great day! Learn lots! Be nice!”

Lauren: “Bye Momma. Drive safe! Don’t be late work!”

Then it comes: the scariest moment of my day. I watch her for the 50 yards between car and school door.

I don’t know why the minute or so it takes her to lope, or amble, or skip, or spin (depending on her mood) her way up the sidewalk and stairs to the door scares me so. My heart stops, then pounds, and I have to remember to breathe. It’s as if I’m awaiting a giant bird to swoop down and clutch her turquoise puffy coat–or worse, her straight orange hair–and take her away. I’m waiting for a bomb to go off.  But there are no obstacles on the path from door to door, especially since they painted the seven steps road-stripe yellow. There are no fox holes. There is no field of broken glass. There is no sniper fire. It’s just 50 yards of concrete, a flag pole, some bike racks, aluminum handrails and steps, grass. Innocuous. Safe.

Even still, in those moments, I’m waiting to never see her again.

Fridays are the worst days, because that’s the day we switch households. I put the car in park and get out, walk around the car and help her out. I hug her and kiss her and tell her I’ll see her on Tuesday for dinner. I give her another huggy-kissy–oh god, she’s starting to shirk the kisses and she’s just 7!–and send her on her way.

Lauren has been walking into school by herself since halfway through kindergarten. She told me, “Momma, I’m a big girl. I can walk myself in!” so I decided to let her. Hell, I was walking to school from home with a friend in kindergarten, and that was almost a mile. My mother told me a couple of years ago that she and my friend’s mom would follow us in the car, then stake out a parking lot a couple of blocks from school just to make sure we got there OK and on time. There must be a gene in mothers that gets activated when you let your children fly a little, one that compels you to watch, eagle-eyed, for them to safely enter their destination. Since that first day, I have never, EVER left the school until the front door closes behind Lauren.

Occasionally, an impatient someone will give me a honk as I wait. Sometimes, especially if we were running really late, I feel rushed to leave without watching her, but I still wait, often peering into my rear-view mirror at the stop sign to catch a last glimpse of her bookbag. My heart races–10 feet, five feet, she’s at the door! Oh, no, she’s stopping to talk to her friend. I glance at the clock: 8:59. I have five minutes to make the seven-minute drive to my parking garage. I ease my foot off the brake and roll the car forward inches, the odometer not registering 1 mph. Finally, she and her friend make their way through the portal, painted with a happy scene of children and adults. I drive away. My heart will pound for blocks.

Some day, I won’t take her to school anymore. She’ll take a bus, catch a ride with friends, ride her bike, walk even. Some day she may leave for school before I’m even out of bed, as I did my senior year of high school when I had a 7 am calculus class. I wonder if then I’ll worry even more, because I won’t be able to watch her arrive safely into the arms of the school.


2 Comments so far
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You got my heart pounding in fear, too, because I more than understand your feelings.

-Not to mention that my daughter shares your daughters’ name & is 8. 🙂

I don’t know that I’ll ever grow out of that fear, and I try sooo hard not to limit what she does because of it, but it’s so hard!

There’s so much out there that could hurt them, and I have no idea how I am going to protect her.

And you know what?
I never thought of myself as sexist, but I’m not that protective of her little brother.

Is that sexist, or just a second child thing??

Comment by Jane Blogs

@ Jane Blogs: I think it’s more of a 2nd child thing. Fewer pictures, fewer rules, fewer fears. With your first, every experience is a pioneering one. With your second, it’s been there, done that.

Comment by humanbeingblog

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