I remember the first time I received this envelope. It was January of 2012 when the registration forms for Buddy and Goose arrived. I met that envelope with a mixture of excitement and worry.
Kindergarten will be so great for them! They will learn so much! I hope they’re ready. Of course they are! I hope they can make friends. They’ll be fine! And so on until the day came that they climbed the steps of the bus for the very first time.
But this envelope is for Bear… and the emotions that go with it are more complex. This is my youngest. My baby. The last. I took the mail from the mailbox, saw the envelope, sat in my car and cried. He is my baby, but he is also my partner in crime, my best friend.
When the Buddy and Goose started school, it was me and Bear. For the first time, I have regular periods of time with one child… alone. My attention is not divided by 3. We have adventures. We go to cafes that I wouldn’t dare bring 3 kids into. I joke that he’s the best boyfriend that I’ve ever had, and it’s true. When we go to the diner and he’s impatient waiting for food, I tell him that while we wait we should talk because that’s what grown ups do. When I ask what he’d like to talk about, he grins and says, “You, momma. Let’s talk about you.”
When I’m shopping and manage to pick out a few things for myself, he insists that I try them on before we leave. “We have to go to the dressing room, momma. I’ll hold the hangers.” And he does. And he doesn’t complain. Ever.
On Christmas, the kids were all given Kindle Fires. When I was setting them up the night before, I noticed that one didn’t seem quite right, but I wasn’t sure. Confession: I made a conscious choice to give the wonky one to Bear, because I knew that if it was defective, he’d be able to handle it without a meltdown. It was broken. I told him a replacement would come on Saturday. He didn’t bat an eyelash. When Saturday came and I was notified that the package wouldn’t arrive until Monday, again, no problem. When UPS arrived Monday with his Kindle, he was SO EXCITED, but by a cruel twist of fate… it was also broken. Disappointed but not a tear, he asked if I could order him a new one. I said I would. He moved on. If it had been Buddy’s Kindle that needed replacing twice, you might have heard him screaming clear across the globe. If it had been Goose’s, there might have been weeping, or at minimum sulking. Bear accepts change and disappointment with an ease I wish I had. He teaches me daily that an unexpected change of plans is an opportunity and not a crisis.
I’m going to need to channel his inner-calm come September, and I will because I have to, but it will still feel like a breakup.