Barbara Parent: Mothers like me

Barbara Parent: Mothers like me

reporter photo

Missing the first day of school.

Standing outside the Strand Theater, traffic buzzing by on New Britain’s Main Street, kids like me line up for our free pencil box. Can’t wait to open that drawer that pulls out from under the top shelf with the compartments that hold pencils, an eraser, a moon shaped plastic piece with numbers that look like a ruler but is it because the familiar 6” one is in the secret drawer. 

It is the week before school begins. The Strand shows a kid movie, the name long since evaporated as has the site where we stood.

The pencil box is forever a keeper. Like report cards with the coveted H and and a few S’s but never a U. No, not ever a U.

 It is the time of outdoor recess where along side our ancient multi-story brick school, the gravel area is our playground where our voices join as we hold hands with our arms held high and classmates go, “In and out the window.” 

Missing the first day of school.

The neighborhood kids gather on our front lawn, lunch boxes in hand, moms like me encourage smiles as our cameras click.  Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third, fourth, fifth and sixth as the Septembers pass and our cameras record our children’s timeline. Comes the day, as it always does, when the neighborhood school gives way to what they now call middle school and the neighbor kids no longer gather on our front lawn and mothers like me are asked by their children to wave goodbye from inside the house, “If you must.” 

Missing the first day of school.

A car packed with belongings travels the interstate miles to the place of shared dorms, electives and meal plans. Silent tears on the ride home that for mothers like me, are a constant as one by one they leave for the first day of higher learning and yet, for mothers like me it is still the first day of kindergarten.

Missing the first day of school?

The familiar “ting” from Ron’s Smart phone. 

“Play it again,” I implore Ron, now at least the fifth or sixth run through the video that brings us 500 miles south to a Connecticut front yard. The scene is all too familiar and yet, if not for the age of electronics and internet and all that I often scoff at making life too easy could a grandmother like me, who holds on protectively to her flip phone, almost reach out and touch what she is viewing?.

“It’s my first day of first grade” Danny tells us, quickly followed by Laura’s, “And it’s my first day of fifth grade.” They smile and wave. Today I am not missing the first day of school as we replay and replay the video, shot by their dad, the kindergartner who smiled for me, as I snapped his picture his first day of school.