I already know that I wear my heart on my sleeve; I just wasn’t aware that I also wear every single emotion on my face.
“How are you doing?” seems like a simple pleasantry between two people. But this was a loaded “How are you doing?” and not in the Joey from Friends “How you doin’?” kinda way, but more of a “Are you OK?”
In the fall, my boy will be headed off to kindergarten and today I’m at kindergarten orientation registering him as a new student. I thought I had my emotions in check, but I caught the eye of the principal mere moments after I entered the school.
“How are you doing?” she cautiously asked.
I consider giving the polite answer of “I’m fine, wonderful, excited, thrilled!” but in that moment, when she and I are eye to eye, I know she’s on to me.
“I’m…” I continue, “I’m going to try to keep it together today.”
“But they haven’t even gotten to school yet! You’ll be fine.”
In my attempts to hold back a sob, I answered with a much too forced “Sure.”
So what was it that gave me away, Mrs. Principal?
Was it my eyes? Did they defy me with the telltale signs that I was crying in the shower this morning?
Could you sense that I felt like I had been punched in the stomach when I pulled up to your lovely little school?
Could you see on my face that even though I’m standing in a school that parents and students love, that is surrounded by a neighborhood that people flock to simply to attend your school, a school that has artwork and student achievements wallpapering the walls, that I’m searching hard, very hard, to find something I don’t like.
Could you sense the dull pain in my chest? The pain from realizing that in a few short months I will be putting my heart on a big, yellow bus and I’ll wave and wave until I can’t see him, and just like that, he’s off to school.
Let me assure you, Mrs. Principal that my boy, he will be fine. He will walk the halls of your big school and he will show everyone how smart, kind, funny and sweet he is. He’s so sweet he’ll rot your teeth and he’s so funny, he’ll make every teacher laugh. He’ll make friends and he’ll be JUST FINE, more than fine. So really all of this, this face I must be carrying today, it’s really about me.
It’s about me all excited and wistful and scared all in one at kindergarten orientation. It’s me chiding myself for being so emotional and knowing my mom-friends will have a field day with me when I recount this ridiculous interaction between you and me.
But I just can’t help it and apparently, can’t hide it either. So I will watch your presentation, be befuddled by the carpool, nod quietly when you show us the playground, and try my best to not make an audible sound of distaste when I see the “kindergarten hall.”
Because, after all, Mrs. Principal, in a few months you and I will see each other in the hallways for parties and PTA meetings, and I can assure you I won’t be crying then. And maybe in a few years, when I make this kindergarten orientation trip for my daughter, I won’t be crying. Probably not. I will probably be crying.
So you and I might be right back here, and you can assure me it will all be OK and I’ll believe you.
** P.S. He got on that bus. I cried. He rocked kindergarten. I'll probably cry when he goes to first grade too.**