It is fair to say that since the day he came sweeping into the world, Jackson has been a pretty independent kid. He's never been clingy. He never cried when he went to daycare. He gives a brisk nod if Shawn and I head out for the occasional date night. He dresses himself. Grooms himself. Occasionally feeds himself. He told me when he was ready to give up his night pull-ups. He reminds me that he needs to brush his teeth. He's in-de-pen-dent! (Heck, he probably supports Nader) But the biggest push of independence he has made thus far is going into school by himself each day.
J's school is located inside our local Recreation center. I love it there. The classrooms are located deep at the back of the building, with the western sun streaming in every afternoon. There is a small hallway outside the three classrooms that service the afternoon Pre-K kiddos. With 15-16 kids per classroom, an equal number of parents and tag along siblings, the hallway gets quite full and quite hectic by 12:30. Every even day the halls fill up with a swarm of parents and kiddos and babies and the occasional aunt or grandma as well. And as the 3 classrooms open up, practically simultaneously, the stream fills into each of the classrooms as well. Parents follow their kids into the classrooms, get backpacks put away and interest formed in one of the many free-centers available. Then there are of course hugs and kisses and good-byes and the occasional tears. Then all the parents exit the classes at the same time and rush off to their SUV's and mini-vans and exit the tiny parking lot at the same time as well. With all this going on, in three classrooms, at the same time, it is on the heavy side of chaos.
Well since this is J's 2nd year in the same classroom, he's pretty well familiar with the scene. He barely has time to kiss me good-bye once he's in the classroom because he is focused on which activity is calling his name. It has left me feeling sort of rushed and crazed and my feelings a little bruised (I know, I know, I'm 35 years old, grow up already!). I just flat out don't like the drop off craziness, nor does Jackson. So within the last few weeks I have had my good-bye to him in the hallway before class starts. I get to look into his eyes, feel his warm hug and even receive the occasional kiss. He is excited for school, but since the classroom isn't open yet, he's open to receiving my affections. And Holden's as well - they hug and high-five and exchange kisses. It is awesome. Then as soon as the door to his classroom opens, he is off, without a backwards glance. I peak through the window to insure he is settled into his routine, but I'm quickly gone after that. I avoid the rush of exiting parents, and can get Holden home and down for a nap faster as well.
At first I felt a small twinge (OK a big twinge) of guilt for our new routine. I felt like a "bad mama" for not walking him into his class, doting on him and smothering him with kisses. But then I realized that he is fine going in by himself. He prefers it. He feels more confident and independent, and sure of himself. I get a focused, tender good-bye, and then he gets to be a big boy walking into his classroom alone. I'm over my guilt. I'm not going to change my independent child, that I know. So we're just going to have to keep finding ways to make it work for both of us. Mr Independent. Yep, that sounds about right.