August 20th, 2009
Olivia “Youthton” John and Toots, before school drop-off.
Toots started kindergarten today. In the days leading up to this morning, she periodically admitted she was “nervous,” a revelation wholly unlike her, the social girl who tells strangers about the time “daddy had a weiner operation and laid on the couch all day.” Either way, I monitored her daily, asking what made her nervous, trying to address her concerns about making friends and learning to read.
Still, she seemed mostly excited, stopping every man and woman on the street to share the exact start day of kindergarten and the color, make and model of her lunch bag. So when The Rock and I dropped her off at class today, my heart splintered as she burst into tears. I’d never seen her do this before in social situations. Usually, she waves me off with an “I need kid time” dismissal.
I internally wept with her as she stood on a small red circle in the back of the room, weakly holding her tissue as the teacher led the class in an ironic version of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” Right then and there, I fought the urge to collect Toots and stick her in my cozy pocket, the one where tears don’t live. But The Rock waved me off as clearly the teacher didn’t encourage parental lingering, and so I reluctantly refused to look behind me as I left.
Now there’s an image in my mind of her solo on that red circle, clutching Kleenex, pale and wan, with tears streaming down her face as the rest of the kids ignore her.
It’s hard to shake that picture, even though I know closer to the truth is that right about now, her teacher knows all about The Rock’s weiner operation.