Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hope // Yes, Virginia

Christmas season is in full swing here at the Lil' Dude house. We luckily counted on our fingers the numbers of celebrations we're able to partake in this year- I think six. Christmas six times! Aren't we lucky. Aren't we lucky ... indeed.

We celebrated the past weekend with the Grandparents of the North. My own Mama played Santa for her granddaughter's seventh Christmas (wait, what?) while remarking that when I was a kindergartner, I told my entire class there was no Santa.


The teacher had to involve my parents, of course, and mass hysteria I assume from all her tiny believers. I don't remember the event- which is semi-odd given my propensity for recalling every detail of all my years lived. How did I know at five there was no Santa? And why would I tell others? I wasn't mean-spirited as a child. I don't know. But 29 years later it pissed me off.

I held my breath and crossed my fingers when on the first day of her Advent calendar, the Lil' Dude opened a note from the Christmas Fairies and said, look Mama! You have these same gift tags downstairs! It was a fleeting observation but it still freaked me out. She's six. She's in school- surrounded not only by her classmates, but older, seasoned kids and veterans of Christmas. You know the crap that is slung around on buses and playgrounds and cafeterias. She could actually Google "Is Santa Real?" like I did a few minutes ago. I am not ready for that step in our life. I'm not ready to own up to chewing up carrots and spitting them out on Santa's cookie plate. I'm not ready to admit to sweeping up Reindeer Food from the sidewalk, deck, and driveway. I'm not ready to explain filling Advent calendars, St. Nicholas boots, or Christmas stockings and giving imaginary characters the credit.

I am not ready. I want her to be rooted in hope and belief for every Christmas season she sees. If she chooses one noun to be her favorite her whole life, I want it to be hope. If she tattoos one word on her body, I want it to be hope. Even if she forsakes everything else, make hope what she holds onto.

A few centuries ago, a little girl wrote to a newspaper in New York asking the editor if there indeed was a Santa Claus. The answer, as antiquated as it is now, still rings true.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. There is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Miss Six

At 12:37pm today, you took your very first breaths. You didn't cry. You sneezed; you blinked.

Happy Birthday, baby girl. Today you finally get to be six!

You're all legs and lyrics. Your hair is turning a darker shade of blonde and it delights you. You so badly want to be a brunette like your Mama. You have an astonishing memory and the uncanny ability to say precisely the right thing at the right time. You make everyone around you, better. Horses, music, your stuffies, art, and quality time with your village continue to be your love languages. Kindergarten has made you evolve into this worldly creature full of knowledge, brimming with opinions and explanations. You challenge me. You push me. You amaze me.

While it doesn't seem possible you have been here for six long years already, it seems even more impossible that I was given the greatest gift when you tested those lungs out the very first time, that I was given you. We get along famously. We're simple like that. I treat you like an adult for the most part, well, like your very own person at least and you respect that role, mostly. Sure, we have our epic horn-locking from time to time, because A) we're female B) our lineage and C) it's the mother-daughter relationship cliche. I still need to loosen up when it comes to meals. You're a picky little vegetarian and the aperture of your food lens is constantly decreasing. You're a bit (a big bit) of a hoarder/collector/engineer/inventor. I love to purge, purge, purge, and restore natural order in our home. I casually ask your Dad what he thinks we'll be like in three years, and in seven. He says he doesn't want to know. Challenge accepted.

I no longer cry on December 7ths. Well- maybe when my heart feels like it's going to burst because in the middle of opening gifts, you throw you arms toward Heaven and scream, "This is the best birthday ever!" and I know you mean it because at six, you still unabashedly tell the truth. Lying is still (blissfully) an inability of yours. That makes me cry because it's sweet and pure. I no longer cry at the fear of you growing up. I'll admit I took toddlerhood and preschool years personally. I accept it now, damnit. I welcome it. I cherish it.

And, as ever, some lyrics for you. Perhaps a bit too gritty for my sweet six year old, but you get the gist;

Silver Lining
by Kacey Musgraves

Woke up on the wrong side of rock bottom
Throw a lot of pennies in a well
That done run dry
Light up and smoke 'em if you have 'em
But you just ain't got 'em
Yeah ain't we always looking
For a bluer sky

If you're ever gonna find a silver lining
It's gotta be a cloudy day
It's gotta be a cloudy day 
If you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning
You're gonna have to stand in the rain
You're gonna have to stand in the rain

Hoo hoo hoooo 

If lemonade keeps turning into lemons
And you wear your heart on a ripped
Unraveled sleeve
Been run through the wringer
And pushed on to your limit
Say you're just unlucky
But luck ain't what you need

'Cause if you're ever gonna find
A four leaf clover
You gotta get a little dirt on your hands
You gotta get a little dirt on your hands
And if you wanna find a head 
That fits your shoulder
You're gonna have to go to the dance
You're gonna have to go to the dance

If you wanna find the honey
You can't be scared of the bees
And if you wanna see the forest
You're gonna have to look past trees

If you're ever gonna find a silver lining
It's gotta be a cloudy day
It's gotta be a cloudy day
If you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning
You're gonna have to stand in the rain
You're gonna have to stand in the rain

It's an absolute pleasure being your Mama. I could fill an entire college-lined, kitten-covered notebook with the reason that make it true. But I don't need to. Your eyes have seen my liner notes, your soul has breathed their weight, and your heart pumps the density.

Happiest of days to you, Miss Six.
I triple-puffy heart you.
More than Starbucks.
Have a great year. The best yet.

Mama loves.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stop It I'm Awesome

You had RSV when you were 8 weeks old.
You fell off the bed.
Took a can of spaghetti sauce to the forehead.
Stitches, to the face.
You crashed your bike into a cemetery fence.
A shiner that one Valentine's Day.
Fat lip. Teeth jarred loose.
Cut your own bangs.
You tasted hot salsa and screamed.
Once, I let you slip a little out of your bath towel and you smashed your head on tile.
Drank chlorine by the bucketfuls.

You were burned, bloodied, blistered, bruised, and now ... bullied.

I just can't protect you.

The above summarizes that and it kills me more than anything in my life. Heart walking around outside my body-type-thing. I've tried. I'm trying. To always protect you.

You came home today in tears. Said some second graders were mean to you, that you were pushed. You ran to me and starfished-me right in the rainy driveway.

And my first reaction was anger. I didn't cry. It wasn't even a fleeting emotion.

Which is amazing, given my natural tendencies to cry no matter the actual emotion I'm experiencing. Pride. Hurt. Depression. Anger. Audacity. Joy. Relief. Frustration. I'm a crier, so I cry.

But today? I think today I became a Mom. I wanted to rip some people apart, starting with second graders.

That's so awesome of me. Not the people-ripping, of course, but the fact that I handled the shitty situation with some sort of aplomb and Momness.

But- like I told you the night before school started, look out for your people. You simply have to be kind to everyone. And so do I, and you and I covered that topic today in the rain. Simply put, there are going to be mean little people in this world, just like there are mean big people. It's just how some people are. All you need to do is know when to find help, and just to tell them this:

Seriously. I "Liked" this Instagram post a week ago, and today, it was the first thing that came to mind. So thanks for that, Bruno. It's ... sad and unfortunate we need to arm our kids with this mantra, but it's what Mama's do.

I really don't want to have to rip off any tiny appendages today. It's been a long week.

So- Kid Rock. You got this, and I always got you. I can't always protect you, and even if I could, I probably wouldn't want to. Uphill both ways and all, the only way to get to the other side is to go through it, character building, etc.

I'll be waiting for you. A million always and forevers.

Mama loves.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Big Bag of Love

This week's Show & Tell assignment included a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

You were to include five items that define who you are as a person, and fit inside the bag. You brought the bag home six days ago; so you've had plenty of time to determine what five things you wanted to represent you. You gave this assignment critical attention and focus. For kids, who sometimes completely change in an entire hour, five is a pretty small number. Your choices, however, are rock solid. That's my girl ... Mama loves.

1. A Plastic Horse

No-brainer. You were a horse for Halloween two years ago. You've had an affinity for everything equestrian forever. I daresay horse was one of your first words. You have a horse from American Girl on your list for Santa this year, and I recently scoured the Internet for the perfect horse-print scarf to gift you. Your favoritism carries over to your people ... it's so fun to share your obsession and foster it, too. And, you've even went as far as learning the different breeds- you're constantly pointing out the difference between Appaloosas, Shetlands, Saddlebred, Thoroughbred, Clydesdales, and Quarter Horses. And, you just corrected me when I called one a Palomino- that is not a breed, rather a distinctive coat color in which the body is white with irregular brown or black patches. My bad, kid, my bad.

2. An iTunes Logo

That's. My. Jam. Literally. And the fact that it's your jam, too, makes my life. It really does. I'd spend my last $5 bill on songs. (I mean, it's a tie between that and Starbucks, but music crosses the finish line 1/100th of second before coffee) I'm not artistic, and I can't sing. I have zero rhythm, even less dancing coordination or ability, but I view music as my only art form. My full-time gig. It serves all those purposes for me, and I know it will for you. I wonder if you'll be 16 in Germany on a three-week class trip, at a Discotheque with your host sister who is uber-cool, albeit terrifying, and smoking, quite possibly drunk, and you can't understand any of the impossibly loud lyrics coming from the dingy club basement or anyone around you and you should be scared shitless, instead the baseline ... the way it reverberates in your chest and makes your entire body come alive ... well, I wonder if that single experience will change your life the way it changed mine.

3. A Photo of The Beagle

There was that one time I took you go the grocery store so you could buy the ingredients to make your dog a real-live birthday cake for his 6th birthday. As you put all the items on the conveyor belt at checkout, the super-old cashier lady said in her super-old voice, "OH! I bet some little girl is having a birthday!" while clasping her hands under her chin. Nope! you told her. I am baking a cake for my brother, The Beagle. He's a dog, like a real one. He's SIX! I mean ... there were party hats involved. Your connection to him is other-levelly. In the weeks leading up to Kindergarten, I felt the need to go on a tour of iPhoto beginning in December of 2007 ... and without exaggeration, the Beagle is in nearly every single photo of you. You saw how he reacted to you boarding the bus this year. Epic sadness! I am so glad you have him. I still worry about you being an only child, and I know he takes the edge off that for me ... and likely you. It's not silly. It's perfect. And laying the groundwork for you to be an animal lover your entire life. When you're my age, you'll realize that petting zoos are inhumane, and ponies should never be glittered or pink for parades, and you'll wring your hands at the prospect of either. And you'll have goats on your Christmas list.

4. A Paintbrush

If I can claim music, your Dad can claim this one. If you give a girl a box of colors ... she'll always have a story to tell and place to do so. And it's not about the end product, it's about what it means to you. It's about how you process the world around you and find joy and beauty in everyday items. I have an antique dresser in the guestroom, 5-drawers tall, and it's filled completely with artwork. I struggle mightily with what can stay, and what can go. Sometimes, I'll admit, I throw pieces away. I know. I KNOW. It's hideous and horrendous and I pay penance when you bust me. I feel a little like a drug lord trying to smuggle contraband across the border via the trash. Your fury, disbelief, and sadness pierce my heart. But in the name of hoarding, I'm going to need more antique dressers.

5. Star

Yes, who? It's new, it's a stuffy. And it's small enough to fit in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, so it makes the cut. I just told the story of Coconut, your current It-Bear, and he was so three bears ago. Star is what the packaging called a Pocket Monster ... an art kit your Grandma G. gave you and we made together. Basically a generic version of Ugly Dolls. I'd say Star is a true representation of how easily you fall in love ... and I kinda like that about you. It's never good to be too regimented when it comes to who or what you let in your life. You just never know what you might be missing out on. I can't wait to see what you secretly include in your boxes bound for the dorms, some relic of your childhood you just couldn't let go. Hell, maybe it'll be Star ... but he has already endured two rounds of hot glue, just sayin'. And your infinite love of stuffies reminds me you're really still a little girl, and not all grown up just yet.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fake It 'Til You Make It

For me, it was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

I was seven, and I had a hot, maybe forbidden copy of the cassette duped from my Auntie R. who would have been 20 at the time. I adored her and probably told her she was pretty 300 times in order to get my hands on that music.

I would lay on my bedroom floor in the basement, my hand-me-down cassette player that was my own Mama's, plugged into the wall. I would position myself on my stomach, chin on hands, and listen to Dirty Dancing overandoverandoverandover, repeat.

My only mission was to learn every single word of every single song. Before I burnt the reels out of the Maxwell-brand tape that is ... which I eventually did. I later managed to acquire a legitimate copy of the album on tape, and I already knew every chord and didn't need to lay on my floor with my finger prone over the rewind button. I had succeeded in my quest. It didn't prevent me from then buying the CD when I found it in the bargain bin at Sam Goody (oh you guys! The amount of money I spent at Sam Goody!) as a teenager. Nostalgia like whoa.

For her, it will be Beyonce's Single Ladies. And it will include the dance routine from the video.

Kids these days.

At this point in her nearly six years of life, I had estimated I/we have read my daughter 3,650 books. At one bedtime last week, the Lil' Dude, after having Single Ladies stuck her in head all evening, asked if she could listen to that song on my iPod instead of listening to a story. I completely rocked her face off when I one-upped her with the offer of watching the video on YouTube instead.



Sometimes parenthood is so freaking cool.

So along with Beyonce, she chose Alicia Keys' Girl on Fire (girl power!) and because she's her Mama's daughter, FloridaGeorgia Line's Cruise.

And we have ourselves a new little bedtime routine. She keeps track of the songs she wants to listen to each night on little Post-It's ... Lorde's Royals, Macklemore's Thrift Shop (holy explicit lyrics, Batman), Katy Perry's Roar, AWOLNATION'S Sail, and Single Ladies on repeat. Just her and I gather in her bedroom in the pitch black, door shut, and I push play on YouTube at max volume, three songs each night.

Okay, maybe four if you count Beyonce twice. After all, it's her main goal in life to memorize the lyrics AND the dance ... just as mine was with that soundtrack in 1987. I keep telling her she has to fake it until she makes it ... that one day, (much to her Daddy's complete and utter horror), she will be Beyonce in the black Lycra complete with the robot hand.

Monday, September 23, 2013

No Regrets

We just returned from a lazy weekend at my parents'- the Lil' Dude's Grandparents of the North. A long few days spent hunting for leaves and caterpillars, running hills with the dogs, building pink Legos, drinking copious amounts of coffee, having free reign over the candy drawer, and sleeping in. Best. Days. Ever. It's one of the few places in my orbit that recharges my batteries no matter how long I'm docked there.

Yesterday, we were all seated around the dining room table eating our Sunday Supper departure meal- roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, white dinner rolls, corn, and garden-fresh tomatoes and peppers. My Mom had already remarked that she didn't cook any kid food all weekend- no Velveeta Shells & Cheese, no pickle roll-ups, no crustless jam sandwiches, no turkey dogs. The Lil' Dude ate Chicken Fricassee, Last Turn Chili, smoked salmon from Alaska, and extra-sharp cheddar cheese from Green Bay just like the grownups. It was monumental.

But as we sat down yesterday, she began to whine about her roast beef ... It's too tough. I can't do it. I don't like it. When in reality, it was fork-tender. Buttery. Perfect. So my Dad said, "Eat your potatoes and everything else," and let his only grandbaby off the hook.

When I was a kid, I refused to eat meat. I declared everything as too tough, I don't like tough meat, and that became my mantra. I wrote about it in school; my teachers mentioned it at conferences, my friends' parents and extended families commented on it and harassed me about it endlessly.

So, 30 years later, it's only natural my child would utter the same mantra.
Only this time, she gets a free pass.

My Dad mentioned yesterday, "It's true. Children's teeth and palates cannot tolerate meat. They lack the jaw strength. I know that now. In fact, that's my only regret in parenting- that I made you sit at the dinner table and eat everything off your plate, meal after meal, night after night. My only regret."

I questioned his claim. His only regret in parenting? And he confirmed it. With vigor.

And that- that right there, is why I hold him in the highest regard, truly idol-status category of parenthood. That something as inconsequential as dinnertime rules would be his only do-over. Especially when I take into consideration the other stuff I thought was bigger, and more regrettable.

He made me learn how to change my own oil, and tires.
He made me take Calc.
And gun safety.
He bought me a brand new car for Sweet Sixteen.
(that I totaled 4 months later)
He also bought my baby brother a brand new car for his Sweet Sixteen even though his experiment with that was ill-fated.
He let my high school boyfriend come over All. The. Time.
He made me save 75% of each paycheck I earned ... in my savings account.
He was brutally honest about my hair. Shoes. Tattoos. Piercings; the gamut.
And still loved me.
He paid for my entire college education.
And made me graduate in four years.
He never took me to Disney World.
He let me move in with my college boyfriend.
And paid off my credit card debt.
He let me travel to far-off places, and gave me souvenir money.
He let me take his truck to country music festivals as a minor.
He made us sit down to dinner as a family as many night of the weeks as possible.
He made me own my mistakes and failures and lies and shame.
And still loved me.
He still corrects me. And educates me. And holds me accountable.
And has me proof-read his business communication, and program his new Smartphones.

I know when I go to sleep each night, I have regrets on the day regarding my daughter. Something I did. Or didn't. Or mishandled. Or ignored. Or fell short, overreacted, failed, botched, denied. Every single day, my heart pumps diesel into every chamber of her life, and I do it wrong. But that's OK. That's incredibly human. And very Mama. It's what we do ... it's doing it without regrets that truly matters.

And I hope, with every feather I have, that 30 years from now I can sit at the dining room table in my life and pick out something very, very small that spanned a few years of time, as my only regret in parenting. I have a good example to follow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Interview // Age 5

1. What is your favorite color? 
Umm, pink. Blue. And purple. And red. And orange. That's all my colors.

2. What is your favorite toy?
Palace Pets.

3. What is your favorite fruit? 
What's that orange stuff again? Cantaloupe. 

4. What is your favorite tv show? 
Umm, Ninja Turtles.

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? 
Umm, macaroni and cheese. You knew that!

6. What is your favorite outfit? 
Ummm, is ... what I weared for picture day. 

7. What is your favorite game? 
Umm, tag with E.

8. What is your favorite snack? 

9. What is your favorite animal? 
Umm horses.

10. What is your favorite song? 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

11. What is your favorite book? 
Ummm, the farm book about horses from Auntie A.

12. Who is your best friend? 

13. What is your favorite cereal? 
Guess. Frosted Flakes. 

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? 
Ummm ... go swinging at school. Used to be at daycare, but now school.

15. What is your favorite drink? 
Gatorade. Blue.

16. What is your favorite holiday? 

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? 
My sweet NaNa and Rattle-Girl. 

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? 
The things that I have at Kay's Kitchen- hashbrowns and sausage.

19. What do you want to have for dinner on your birthday? 
My favorite dinner- actually, pizza.

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A teacher. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Watch Dog

It's funny, the things in life you don't account for. Like the feelings and unconditional love of a Girl's Best Friend ... which I always thought were diamonds, since I am an April baby- it being my birthstone and all. But a Girl's Best Friend is her Beagle. Unrequited, unrivaled, and unreal.

For the past five-plus years, The Beagle has always seen the Lil' Dude leaving with her parents, safely buckled in as the kennel door closes and garage door comes down. There was peace with that I assume; and on the rare days or weeks where the adults returned home sans girl, there was plenty of looking and sniffing for her, a general discontentment settled at the top of the stairs until that tiny human of his returned.

Yesterday, day two of kindergarten was very, very unsettling for The Beagle. In Tuesday's flurry of activity, I guess we just didn't notice- we both left the house and locked him up after the school bus headed past. Yesterday, he witnessed the whole damn thing- how that giant, yellow monstrosity swallowed up this tiny human just as the sun was rising.

And this is where her beloved watch dog perched for the day- from 7am until 2:30pm - in the hot, hot sun, eyes glued to the corner where it all went down. That in dog years, is like, 14 days or some nonsense. But I couldn't get him to budge a damn inch.

(And all those hot tears I was so proud not to spill Tuesday pour, pour, poured down my face yesterday as I tried to assure the little beast she would come back)

Their reunion at the end of the long day was Hallmark Channel-esque. They both deserved Grammy's or Oscar's or both.

Today, he was much better. He insisted on being leashed to go with to retrieve her at the bus stop, and I happily obliged. Have you ever seen a bus full of weary, droopy kids not perk up at the sight of a ridiculously and genuinely excited dog waiting for its owner? It was magical and I should have charged admission.

Yes, he was much better today, having lived through yesterday knowing that big, bad bus did in fact return his favorite human to her rightful place. And as I am wont to do, again and again, I shared my favorite new anthem with my firstborn furbaby about this whole new season we're in with our best girl and doing the best we can.

Let Her Go
By Passenger

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast

You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies

But you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much
And you dived too deep

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go (oh, oh, ooh, oh no)
And you let her go (oh, oh, ooh, oh no)
Will you let her go?

'Cause you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

'Cause you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


This little baby went to kindergarten.

And this little girl came home.

That's my favorite picture of her to date; the photo on top. It used to hang in our dining room. Women, the dramatic ones the most, will look at that photograph and claim their uterus is making physical pangs. It's a pang-inducing picture. Look at it. Look at those eyes, those ridiculous cheeks, the impossible tiny pink shoes. Pang, pang, PANG.


She had a great first day. I asked her, and that was her reply. She was enthusiastic. She summed it up, We basically lined up all day long. It was boring. You heard it here first. 270 nonstop days of asking when she could go to school and it was anticlimactic and a snore-fest. That's my girl.

On my first day of school, I rode the bus home.
The wrong bus home.
My neighbor Jason and I were dropped off a neighborhood over from ours, the last kids on the bus and completely clueless. I can't recall if the bus driver intervened in any way- but for the sake of his memory I choose to believe we lied to him and he safely dropped us off, end of story.

We wondered down the street- I wore red jeans and a white polo shirt with a navy blue belt and matching shoes. Hi, America, I love you so hard. We eventually saw a bike path that we knew led to our neighborhood, and we hauled ass. Sure enough, we came flailing down our street as our Mothers- one in her kitchen berating the Hell out of the transportation company and/or school- and one standing sentinel on our street, wringing her hands. I remember talking to my grandparents that night, replaying my first day of school for them as though I wasn't their 11th grandchild to do so, but the first and they let me do just that. I told my Grandpa the best part was finding my own way home and told me quite literally, that I had street smarts. 

The lil' dude's bus was over 10 minutes late at drop-off. No need to worry, the endless paperwork the school provided to us first timers mentioned that as a precautionary measure against likely initial week logistics. Do not call the school or bus company if the bus is 10-20 minutes late, it said. School is 2.1 miles from our driveway. I put my faith into those logistics and sat sentinel myself with other Mamas and their dogs and iPhones and wrenched-on hearts.

And there bus T-38 came, and my daughter was the first one off. I felt my shoulders relax when I didn't know they were tense. Her Bestie came tumbling after.