The whole family went with Anya to drop her off at first day of kindergarten. As we started out, Ewan on Jay's shoulders, Anya holding Maya's hand, me behind, Anya asked, "Where are the rest of them?" as she searched the empty streets. On the cross street up ahead we first saw a mother and child, and turning the corner toward the school, they came in a surge of family groups, lots of dads, all the mothers and many grandparents and babies in arms. It was quite the scene with strollers, backpacks, the parents, dogs, a veritable parade converging on the school, lacking only the elephants, balloons, clowns and cotton candy to complete the atmosphere. There was a timeless moment when I was taking it in. The walls of separation became thin and transparent and I was participating in the closest thing our culture has to a ritual. The playing field was level. We all had a precious person we were letting go into the wider world this morning. It was a rite of passage and because of that, was sacred. That is when my tears of gratitude and love came.
The mundane soon overwhelmed me as we walked into the school yard amid the chattering, yelling, running, clinging reality, as acquaintances nodded and compared their own and their child's reaction to this first day of school with a fervor of excitement. A buzzer sounded. "What does that mean?" asked Oscar, Anya's friend, with nervous energy. The parents then edged their children inside the classroom and, after however long it took to let go, walked out. I peeked in at Anya and held Ewan up to see her. She was doing a puzzle. She was in her own world.
When we went to pick her up six hours later, she came out smiling and shook Ewan's hand, and then took her mother's hand to shake it, but of course her mother grabbed her and hugged and kissed her. I offered my hand solemnly. A small adult part was asking for recognition or so I like to think.