Today was Liam's first day at his new school. And people are wondering "How will it go? Will he be nervous? Will he find playmates? Will he get lost?" But the question I was fixating on was "Will he kiss me at the bus stop?"
Every school day for the last 2 years, Liam has walked hand in hand with me to the bus stop; when the bus pulls up he urgently turns his face upward for a kiss.....then throws his arms around my neck for a quick squeeze before hoisting his tiny body up the giant bus steps.
The bus stop was a good place for us. Each time he put his hand in mine, I held its softness, its tiny-ness, its wanting to be there and I would think "How much longer will he do this?" Each time he turned his face upward for a kiss, I would say a little thank you and think "Next year he won't kiss me at the bus stop."
One day last year, while waiting for the bus, Liam says "Let's play rock paper scissors." Which throws me because I never taught him rock paper scissors. I still believe I'm his portal to the world. Never mind that he spends all day every day with 29 other children and a multitude of adults whose express purpose is to teach him new things. Never mind that. Where did he get this??? It's so weird. So grown-up. So we play rock paper scissors and it's fun. When the bus comes into view, someone yells "BUS!" and everyone forms a line, jockeying for position like there's some prize waiting for them on the bus. Liam is the littlest and has the least developed line-butting skills so he's always last. He turns for his kiss - I say thank you in my mind. Another bus stop mom sees our ritual and waves to her pubescent daughter. She shouts "Don't worry, I won't kiss you! BUT I WANT TO!!!!!"
I watch Liam find his seat, his eyes find me through the glass and he gives a little wave..........and then..........he does rock paper scissors. I play along and I smile because I can't believe how pure this kid is and how lucky I am to be playing this silly old-timey game with him through the school bus window. The bus pulls away and we keep playing and keep playing until the bus turns the corner and we can't see each other anymore.
Last night, I think about rock paper scissors. And I think about how his hand feels more muscular in mine and how it tugs and twists a little - pulling toward independence. I think there will probably be no kiss.
And this morning, he stands tall next to me, up to my shoulder. He's not nervous, he's excited and smiley. And when the bus pulls up, he urgently turns his face upward for a kiss...........then throws his arms around my neck for a quick squeeze.