We approach the blinking light and join the stream of cars turning right and down the hill. Passed the baseball fields, passed the soccer fields, the cars slowly move forward and settle into a holding pattern; the school now visible.
This will be the first time in twelve years that I do not have a student in elementary school. The middle school is visible now and as always, parking will be difficult.. The far parking lot is under renovation and I fall inline with the cars making a circle to the front of the building, unlikely to find a parking space here. There are more than 300 in the fifth grade class, gathering for a picnic in preparation for the start of school next week; STUDENTS ONLY the orientation announcement read.
Groups of mothers cluster here and there on the sidewalks with mixed expression, most of whom I know, some I realize are stepping up to middle school for the first time with their eldest. They find reassurance in these little pockets of peers, just far enough from the face of the building, hovering with the unease of leaving their child behind. Cadence’s brothers have paved all roads ahead of her and we sail through transitions with experience. I smile with reflective humor, knowing I once stood among them, trying to appear comfortable letting go.
“Maybe I am supposed to park and walk you in.” I say to her, glancing at the calm face in the rear view mirror. “I probably should walk you in.” I repeat, with no response. “I’m sure I must have walked in with
“Mom, this is me, not Tyler. I’m fine and you do not need to walk me in.” She says, her eyes meeting mine in the mirror, wide and certain. “Just drop me off in front.”
“Are you sure?” I ask, an unexpected wave of melancholy beginning to fill me from the bottom up.
Cadence unhooks her seat belt and pushes open the door, standing up and then bending over to meet my gaze. “I’m fine. I love you, Mom. Have a great day!” she says, as if she is sending me off to new territory. I guess in a sense she is and I watch her walk, hair swinging back and forth, into the double doors.