The Boy, his classmates and their teacher met me at the half-door of the one-year-old room when I walked in for pick-up. I was a little earlier than usual. They were on their way out to the playground, as The Boy informed me.
"I go outside and play, Momma!"
"We can play outside at home, kiddo. We've got to go home."
The tears started. He cried for half our drive home. Even the blanky was no consolation. Every time the sobbing stopped, I'd hear, "I go outside. Go outside, though," and the wails would resume.
At least he's happy at school, I told myself. I repeated it again this morning.
The Boy couldn't be bothered to give me a hug or kiss or even say goodbye at drop-off. Miss AJ was reading "Mr. Brown Can Moo," and they were on the lightning page. "That's boom-boom," The Boy said, pointing to the page and completely ignoring me.
I remembered my cousin Mindy.
When I started kindergarten, Mindy, who was in high school and a frequent and well-loved babysitter, walked me everyday to my bus and kissed me goodbye. One day, after making friends and awakening to the idea of things being cool or uncool, I asked Mindy not to kiss me. OK, she said. She walked me to my bus and, without missing a beat, smacked me upside the head and said, "See ya later, kid." My 5-year-old self was shocked.
Now, I know how she felt.