Today I made the first payment to St. Ann’s, a Catholic grammar school here in Bethlehem. It is for Benjamin’s kindergarten…Seriously? He is still that tiny little jaundice baby, sitting under the lights in the hospital, days after he was born, as Andrea and sat and stared at him exhausted and emotionally drained. He is still the little baby that I would be sitting with at 4:00 in the morning because he had problems sleeping in his crib (at the time, they were frustrating moments, but now, sometimes, I wish I could have those quiet moments back). He is still that tiny little creature with the silly gummy smile and the onesie with “BEAR” written across it.
Some days, I just can’t bear the thought. It doesn’t seem possible that he will be turning five, soon, and a few weeks after that, starting kindergarten. As we approach the end of summer, I feel a sense of urgency and dread that I have never felt before. I turn off back-to-school commercials and I throw away the back-to-school ads. I want to take some rope and stakes and nail down July to keep it from turning into August. As the summer rolls on, I fear the official loss of this stage not only in the life of my baby boy, but Andrea and I’s life, as well.
I remember when they brought Andrea into the operating room to prepare her for the C-section, I had to wait outside…I knew that everything was going to change. I knew that everything we had known before was going to be turned on end. But, I really had no idea. It’s a similar position, now, to be sitting on the verge of Benjamin’s school years.
I am proud of the little boy Ben has become. Smart, caring, full of questions. He wears clothes intended for seven year olds, and has a smile that always brightens my day. I know none of that will change with kindergarten (aside from the clothes, of course).