I just dropped you off for your first day of kindergarten. You walked in smiling and confident. Inside the classroom, it was chaotic, and you didn't know what you were supposed to do and where you were supposed to go. Your sister was crying and your little brother was starting a fit about wanting to go to his own class. It was not the goodbye I wanted for you. I could see your eyes get a little misty as you asked me if I could stay with you for a little while. My Gabe, I wanted to stay forever (or to just take you home with me).
Then the teacher was able to talk to you, and the mist went away quickly, and you got to work. We tried to exit as quickly as possible.
Gabe, I knew that the same twisty feeling I was having in my stomach was going on in yours. I knew that your head was full of questions and possibilities of what could go wrong (just like mine). I have always been there to answer your questions and soothe all the anxiety out of you, and there is a big part of me that wants to do that for you every day of your life.
Then there is that other part of me that knows this separation - the one that had me crying the whole way home - is what is best. I have watched you, my love, as you have learned so many new things these last couple of years - speech, reading, piano, soccer. You started out protesting, dragging your feet, slowly loosening up and letting yourself be taught. With each of these new ventures, the more you have learned, the more confident you have become. Now you are a totally different boy than you were as a toddler. You are no longer the little brother who can wants to retain his role and expects help with everything. You are the strong and independent boy who knows he is really good at learning things.
It is that boy I left at the school today. I had an assurance in my heart that although you will have your moments of missing home, moments of wondering if you are doing things right, and moments of feeling that you aren't, you will grow because of it. You will gain more confidence in this struggling and conquering than you would gain from years of me soothing and assuring your fears away.
I will miss you at home. I will miss your constant chatting when you are feeling social, and your quiet playing when you are caught up in your imagination. Your sister and I will miss your crinkly-eyed smiles and your spontaneous hugs when something has made you really happy. Ollie will miss the brother who builds tracks and castles for him.
I love you Gabe. Keep up the good work, and you will be just fine. Better than just fine.