At school, there are a couple of pathways that lead from the parking lot to the classroom. When we arrive, I always ask Alex which way he would like to go; past the fish-pond, under the mulberry trees etc. His reply is inevitably “I’ll meet you on the other side!” (Which means: he goes down a different pathway to me and then meets me on the other side.)
It is a little game that we have been playing since the beginning of pre-school, a little reflection of his growing independence, and sometimes, I run ahead, and say “BOO!” when he strolls out of his chosen route. He screams with delight and then runs ahead to the pre-school block reception. During mulberry season, he dawdles along the pathway, squashing purples berries while he walks. On rainy days, he thunders through the puddles, splashing water all over the place. And in winter he runs as fast as he can, trying to stay warm, blowing little puffs of steam from his mouth into the icy morning air. (Our afternoon ritual is similar, but then we go past the fish-pond, so that he can see “daddy fish” – which happens to be the biggest koi fish in the pond.)
When we arrive in the school building, he runs to find his locker, and usually looks to see if his friend Vicky’s bag is in her locker yet. This morning, his Greek teacher was waiting, and he sidled up to her for a hug, saying “Kalimera Kyria Sula” shyly. (…with apologies to any Greek readers, I have no idea how to spell that!) My heart just swelled with pride. He is growing up far too quickly, and I find myself missing the days when he was a baby. Before long, I imagine I will be stopping outside the school gate, with a sulky teenager in the back seat, who would probably rather die than have me walk him to his class room. To add to my melancholy, I went into the playschool on the way out, to hand in Caris’ application for next year. Memories of Alex’s first day at playschool hit me like a hammer; holding his tiny hand, and sitting on the floor with him on my lap for his first group ring. And how proud I was when he got off my lap all by himself to go and sit with the others.
Alex, my sweet baby boy, I hope you will want to “meet me on the other side” always…