The boys have transitioned to a new emotional process in the preschool drop off.
On the first day, Tyler was eager to join his friends, ready for me to go, and happily waved me right on out the door. Now, two weeks later, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, while he claws at my clothes and begs me to stay.
But I don't stay.
He is safe and in good hands, with a teacher I trust and a community he loves. And the kindergarten teacher in me knows that this is part of the process, he's earning his own emotional chips, and every recovery adds to his personal knowledge of who he is and what he can do. So I don't stay.
(But I do leave a good bit of my heart for him to keep until I return.)
Meanwhile, in the PreK classroom down the hall, Tucker was cautious and careful on the first day of school. He stayed close, he held my hand, and silently begged for a healthy dose of reassurance and security before I quietly slipped out the door.
Now, his heart has found a new confidence.
One day this week, I knelt down and whispered, "Hey, buddy, you're going to have a great day. You're smart and important and such a great kid, and I am so proud of you."
And he whispered, "Yep. I know. Just come back before lunchtime." And he scampered off with his friends.
On our second goodbye this week, he leaned in really close, held my face in his hands, and whispered, "Mommy, I just want you to be real careful out there today."
My sweet firstborn feels personally responsible for the safety of his family, and he learns best when he knows he has wished us well.
And so I meet all their requests: I come back, always by lunchtime, and I am always 'real careful out there.'