Jackson starts preschool the week after next, and his new school requested a headshot of him that they could put on his cubbyhole where he’ll store his belongings. Even though I still take a ton of photos of him, it’s hard — and very rare — to get a good one of him being still and smiling at the camera. It took me a couple of hours of trying this morning at various locations and with various kinds of bribery to finally get a picture I could imagine taped to a cubbyhole at school for the next year.
And now I have this image of him seeing his own photo among the other smiling faces of his classmates and reaching for his monkey backpack where I will have packed a change of clothes, extra pull-ups (and hopefully underwear soon…), his lunch, a snack, and some water. Maybe among these things, I will tuck a picture of us, his family, and something from home to remind him that there is a place where he is always safe and always loved no matter what.
It’s just a couple mornings a week he’ll be away from me and away from his babysitter who’s known him since he was four months old. It’s just a few hours a week. But it’s a start. There will be lessons and joy and hurt feelings I can’t help him process in the moment. And it’s exciting and bittersweet. It’s just one more step for him, among many, into the world. I hope it’s good to him.
And just so we don’t end on a bittersweet note: here’s a simply sweet story: A few weeks ago Jackson started asking me what kind of work I do (he knows when he goes out with his babysitter, I stay home and work). I told him I’m a writer and I started showing him this site and I explained how people ask me questions and I give them advice. I told him I write about him sometimes and occasionally post his picture. I showed him some of the pictures I’d shared and asked if he was ok with it and he said yes (I plan to continue asking him this question in the months and years to come). Anyway, the next week after his nap one afternoon, he climbed up on my desk chair, pulled himself up to my laptop and said, “Mommy! I’m a writer! Like you!” And I said, “Oh, do you want to be a writer when you grow up?” And he climbed down, went to his “writing board,” wrote his name in his big toddler handwriting and said, “I’m a writer NOW! I’m a writer like you.”
And on that note, happy holiday weekend to all those who observe and celebrate Labor Day, especially those who get a big fat 3-day weekend to bookend the summer of 2014. Hope you all have a great one. See you back here on Tuesday.