Dropping the kids off at school, a bitter sweet recurring thought

There is a little moment when I drop the kids off at school each morning that simultaneously makes me smile and breaks my heart a little. The two older kids pile out of the, anxious to be gone, tolerating only the briefest goodbye peck on their foreheads, not even turning to look back as they head down the sidewalk and toward the schoolyard. God love them and their independence. They will need it. But our six-year-old lingers, take an extra minute getting out of the car, accepts her goodbye kiss on the forehead and admonition to make the day a great one with the sense of portentous ceremony they are intended. Then she gets out and takes a few steps and turns and smiles, that great, charming and sweet missing-tooth smile of a six-year-old, in a puffy winter coat, a hat down over her forehead, backpack-bigger-than-her, and I smile back and then she turns, skinny legs driving her forward determinedly down the sidewalk. Toward school. Toward a future when those determined little legs are tall strong legs, carrying a grown woman into a full, rich life that I will hear about from the periphery, by Skype, by FaceTime, a Google Hangout, text message… Ah, there I’ve gone again, gotten something in my eye.

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