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they’ll be fine

November 15, 2006

They’ll Be Fine
By Patsy Hughes

I am a single mother of two.  When my oldest child started school, I was like all mothers: I stood, at a loss for words, when he dashed to meet his new friends, without noticing that I was standing there waiting for my bye-bye hug. I felt as if someone just snatched him from me, and I would never have his full attention and dependence again.

I had a lot of time to share with my youngest child, who is three years younger than my oldest.  I had him at my side tugging at my shirt strings for three years.  Where I went, he went.  He was by all means “my baby.”  We had a special bond, the two of us.  He was my li’l man and I was so dependent on his being with me for such a long time that I dreaded the upcoming year for he would start school too.  Every mother knows the hassles that come with shots for school, preschool records, little backpacks and the extra school supplies, not just for one but for two.

For a while, I was working the midnight shift.  One day after seeing my oldest off to the bus, I came back into the house, and as the sitter left, Jeremy said to her, “Don’t wowwy.  I be good and go back to sweep wit Mommy.”  Back then, I would sleep for a few hours then get up and do the Mommy things.  He would help me prepare supper since the earlier I cooked the more time I had with his brother.  His brother would get off the bus, we would play for a while, then do homework, eat and bathe.  By that time, it was almost time for bed and we would nestle up in our beds and retire for the evening.  However I had to get up three hours later to get ready for work.  By this time, the sitter would come. Jeremy heard her every time, and he would come into the living room where she would study before I went to work, and watch her or cartoons and then give the sweetest little kisses as I exited our home.

One morning I got home, changed out of uniform and slipped into the car.  I figured I would try to get my errands done before retiring for a few hours sleep.  I came home exhausted.  I had run all over the malls for a certain crimson red T-shirt to match with Jeremy’s little shorts that I had bought for him to wear to school.  I searched and searched.  My last stop was at Kmart.  As I headed toward the children’s department, up against the wall I noticed the perfect T-shirt.  I grabbed it and started saying, “Look, Jeremy, look!  Here is one and it’s perfect.”  I turned around and he was gone.  Knowing how children love to hide in between things, I started looking for him.  I called out his name, but he never answered.  Several minutes had passed, and I was panicking, screaming his name.  An associate from the store approached me and asked me if I lost something.  I screamed, “I can’t find my baby!  Someone has stolen my baby!!!”  The manager summoned a clerk to call the police as they issued a code on a missing child.  I rambled hysterically through the store looking for my baby.

By this time, a policeman was asking me questions.  I was telling him that my son was standing beside me while I picked out his shirt.  As I reached for a picture of him in my purse, the officer asked, “Ma’am, what was he wearing?”

I started telling him, little bitty white tennis shoes, blue jean shorts and a yellow T-shirt with . . . “Oh, my gosh!” I turned red with embarrassment.

The officer said, “Ma’am?”

I started to cry.

He asked, “Ma’am, what is it?”

I exclaimed, “I am so sorry!”

“What, Ma’am, what is it?”

I exclaimed, “He started kindergarten today!”

Honestly, I was so embarrassed that I paid for his shirt and went straight to the school and stood behind the glass of his new classroom.  As I watched him playing with his new friends, I realized I was all by myself now, no one to call my name thirty times a day, ask questions of why and how come!  I stood there remembering the time I first held him and his brother, and I started to cry.

The next day, I stood at their school doors and watched until the principal walked up to me, grabbed my hand and said, “Ma’am, I promise they will be fine!”

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