Tomorrow everything starts. Real Life, Abu Dhabi style: the boys have their first day of school, I have my first day of classes. Husband had a bunch of “firsts” this morning: first time slot, first class of the new semester, first-year students, freshly arrived in this desert town by the sea.
Today was orientation at the boys’ school and while both of them were nervous all the way there, by the end of the day, they both seemed excited about the prospects of a school with an outdoor swimming pool! a climbing wall in the gym! a HUGE computer lab! And also, apparently, there are classes and subjects and things like homework, but right now they are dazzled by the munificence of this school, which resembles their (very good) public schools in Manhattan about as much as I resemble Angelina Jolie.
Lest you be confused here, I would be playing the part of the Manhattan public school. Ms. Jolie the role of fancy international swimming-pool school.
Here’s the thing. The boys are excited and that’s great, and I’m sure it’s all going to be just ducky. But they’re going to take the bus to school and the bus home. A small bus, a bus that picks them up at our building and drives them the twenty minutes down the road to the school. No intermediate stops, safe as houses.
But if they’re on the bus and I’m not dropping them off in the morning, how will I meet the other parents? How will I scope out other kids so that I see with my own eyes the kid who shoves, the kid who’s funny, the girl with the perfect handwriting? How will I have the little informal chitchat with the teacher that helps me get a sense of who she is and how she runs her class?
Okay. Stop. Really? The thing that’s really, truly getting to me? It’s that they’re going to school on their own. Without me. I want to be with them on that first day, watch them walk into this entirely new experience and be there…just in case.
Remember that movie “Terms of Endearment,” with Shirley Maclaine and Deborah Winger? There was a scene early in that movie when Shirley has just brought her baby home from the hospital and when she comes in to check on the baby at night, she can’t tell if the baby is breathing. She gets closer and closer and closer to the baby until she falls head-first into the crib.
That’s a bit how it feels. I’m wanting to clamber into that bus tomorrow morning and ride to school with them. Just in case. (In case of what, you might ask? I dunno, in case they start to pound each other, or in case they forget which gate they’re supposed to use, or they can’t find their classrooms, or one of the older kids says something nasty. The translation of “just in case” is “I can’t let go.”)
They would, of course, die a thousand deaths.
But really, they wouldn’t even have to talk to me. I could just sit in the back of the bus and then float into the school-yard.
They wouldn’t even know I was there.
You know, just in case.