We walked to school for the last time on Tuesday. I didn't realize until probably Friday that this day was coming. Intellectually, I guess, I knew it - but I didn't KNOW it until I was doing it.
We had homemade cookies in hand, hydrangeas picked in the morning from our enthusiastic bushes. We played as we walked to school. There are always imaginings. He has been a super-hero, a friendly bear hunter. He has been looking for his dragon, or trying to outsmart a tiger (our brown striped companion, Chessie, who follows us for most of our walk.)
That morning he said, clutching the flowers, "today we are climbing Snow Mountain to go visit the Queens, with gifts." Queen Jones and Queen Woodard, teachers of pre-K. I told him, yes, gifts: flowers for Beauty and cookies for Sustenance. He repeated this to the teachers when we arrived. I couldn't have been prouder.
What I will miss, I realize now, even more than the walks, is the time that is Ours. The spaces that fill with not-so-much. When we do things - just him and me - or we don't. He helps with laundry, he pushes the vacuum... or he plays alone, talking to his toys: Playmobil pirates, Legos, odds and ends collected from siblings or McDonald's.
Today is Our last day. We'll finish Monsters - vs - Aliens and go for a walk. We'll head to the neighboring neighborhood, where they have the pond he liked to visit when he was two. We'll have a picnic. We'll talk about stuff.
He is five. He is gentle and rambunctious, busy and thoughtful. When he colors, he uses every color on every page. Puppies have purple ears and green noses and yellow tongues. Transforming robots are stripped of their menace in his hands: orange chestplates, giant pink feet.
I'll miss his conversations with Baby Patrick (they are waning, though he still holds a special place.) Eventually, he won't ask me to sing to him at night: made-up words to Brahm's Lullaby, "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" and all three verses of Rainbow Connection. He'll stop accessorizing, putting on a cape in the middle of the day for no reason. Or sunglasses, a cowboy hat, beads strung sideways across his chest.
Since infancy, he has made people laugh. They say, "I would love to be inside HIS head!"
And I have had the pleasure now, for five years, of being granted more time with him - alone - than either of the other two. I was more distracted, often working, this time. But he's been right there, happy to self-entertain and pleased to bring me in when I was available.
Through it, I have had many opportunities to glimpse inside that head. And it's nice in there. It's bright, it's colorful, and most definitely - good things are coming.
Tomorrow the other two are home, as well. We will all tumble into summer and in August, all three will head off to the same school. It will be easier having them all in one place, and it will be inspiring to watch how much he grows.
But I will miss the place where flowers and cookies seemed like all we needed.