After too many kisses, cuddles and pictures taken, your sister escaped and disappeared through the school gates. You and I then turned towards different gates. These gates were at the end of a windy path and curved walls. We peeked through windows to see women sitting inside a classroom- the teachers for big girls and boys. They were colourful, bright women in a colourful, bright room, cutting and pasting decorations to cover the walls.
A special seat waited for you, positioned between me and her. It gave you the best view of your new world. You sat quietly and looked. The teacher then led you to "your special things": the hook for your coat, the draw for your papers, and the cubby for your shoes. You were still quiet unlike the picture of the giggling girl, which identified your name.
When we left, I was a bit sad. You were quiet that is until you exploded. You exploded down the street, into the store, to the garden, to the door, to all over the couch and you wanted me to join your display or at least stand by and watch.
You were restless, littlest one, very restless and the house was untidy. It had been destroyed by last night's exploration through old uniforms, tights, shoes etc... many of which no longer fit your big sister. For weeks I had prepared for the first day of school, made lists, visited various stores and bought and bought until my plastic cards cried to melt. I placed those items in safe spots. We then went away on holiday and came back with growth spurts and jet lag and the rest that we had scheduled was interrupted by to do lists, unpacking and last minute can't-miss-plans. So, labels stayed hidden in their safe places and markers ran down silk tags. Today, our morning routine seemed no longer routine. It was a disorganised hussle at best. I had a reminder of that when I opened the door.
"Let Mommy just have a cup of coffee," I begged.
"You tired? I give you a massage. Then you give me one." eyes arched, moisturising cream out.
"Ok," I replied. You made a pretty good masseuse and we both giggled at how much moisturiser we used. It was a good start.
"Now, Mommy is just going to have a quick cup of coffee." I smiled.
"We play a game first." You ran to the box of games saying we could play teachers.
I thought that wasn't a bad idea, I could teach you the alphabet and numbers and how to write your name in the next few hours and maybe a bit of physics, all it took was a little concentration. However, you wanted to play the teacher and I was getting scolded for not raising my hand.
"I am getting that coffee," I said, in a much more assertive voice and you continued to scribble your very important notes. So, I slipped my way to the kitchen, turned on the TV and sat down. It seemed to be only a minute or two. You didn't seem to notice I was gone, so I thought that I would tidy the kitchen and finish the laundry. About an hour or two later, you came back to me with letters you wanted posting and pictures you had drawn, and a snack later, it was time to go and get your sister. We no longer had time to go into town and have that ice cream or visit the park or go for a swim or just do that craft seen on TV.
Sissy was excited about her day. She had written letters, drawn pictures, read books, been given sweeties and then ran around with her friends during play time. We looked at her work. "I do that?" you asked. "No, not yet, Dear," I said as I turned back towards your sister.
After snack, you cuddled with your sister in front of the TV, until you pulled the cover off, until you kicked her, until I put you in time out. At dinner, you refused to eat, you played with your seat, getting up and sitting down, getting up and sitting down. When we went to take your sister's new pets out of their cage, you didn't find it necessary to practice being quiet and gentle. In fact, you threw down your princess crown in protest when I stopped you giving the rodents a shower.
I escorted you to your room because you wouldn't stay in time out. You screamed and yelled and said, "I don't want to play with those things anyway. They're boring." At bath time, the water was too cold to hot. You didn't want a bath. You didn't want to get out. At bedtime, you jumped on the bed, under the bed, around the bed, until you were in your sister's bed but you refused to get into your own. I picked you up and carried you to a different room, a new room, a rarely used guest room, to calm you and let your sister sleep. I was frazzled.
"I scared. This room spooky."
"I am with you. I won't leave you, but I can't have you keep your sister up."
"I scared. I'll be good."
"Sh, you need to calm down." I said.
"I scared, don't leave me." You begged. I had you wrapped up in your duvet. I was still holding you like a baby on my lap, on the bed. You, so small. "When are we going to play that game?" you asked. "What game? Oh, that game," the game I promised that we would play during our day together. Our you and me day. "Tomorrow." I whispered. Your eyes opened wide, "Promise." "Yes." You leaned towards me, "Pinky, promise." I wiped away the hair from your face and sank back in to the bed. My voice cracked, "pinky promise." I nodded.
"But, it won't be a you and me day," you informed me.
"No, it will be a school day and you will have such fun at school," I said.
"I scared, Mommy."
"I know." I held you closer and rubbed your back. Your arms wiggled beneath the duvet, until your head could reach my shoulder. We sat for a moment. Our fist cuddle of the day. I then carried you back to your bed and kissed you goodnight and left your room.
I walked into my bedroom and found your father's shoulder for my head to rest. Quietly, I confessed, "I screwed up. Her last day with me and I screwed up. I wish I could call for a do-over." He just turned, put his arm around me and kissed my forehead. "It will be alright," he said.
I took his hand and he shut his book, "Tomorrow, there will be no more babies in our house. It will be empty and there will be no more chances for do-overs." We both lay quiet.
I know that you won't remember this, but I will. I guess I just wanted to say sorry.