Saturday, March 18, 2017


     Every parent knows there are going to be “firsts.”  Some of those firsts are going to be the happy, amazingly wonderful firsts; the “oh, they are growing up so fast!” kind of firsts.  And some of those firsts are going to be the lump-in-your-throat, my-heart-just-skipped-a-beat, “oh, my god what is happening?” firsts.  I had one of the latter this week. 
     I walk Coco to school at least twice a week, sometimes three times a week.  We walk to school through the park, past the playground, up the stairs next to the community center, around the hospital, past the corner grocery and onto the lower yard at her school.  More often than not, we arrive just before the bell rings and the principal, Ms. Pope, starts the morning announcements.  Coco gets in line with her class and I wait and listen to the announcements with the crowd of parents standing and milling around behind the kids lined up with their classes.   After announcements, the kids, lined up behind their teachers, walk to their classrooms.  As Coco’s line passes on the way to her classroom, I dart up, give her a kiss, tell her to have a good day, and then head to work.
     Now, many parents – ok, most parents – drop their kids off and don’t stick around.  They drive their kids to school and drop them off in front of the school and leave.  Or they walk them to the lower yard and kiss them good-bye at the gate and leave.  Maybe some kids even get to school without their parents.  I fully own the fact that I am the over-protective, paranoid parent of a kindergartener.  The idea of leaving her before she is in line with her class, in the eyesight and in the custody of her teacher, Mr. Kallock, and on her way to class is, well, anathema to me.
     This week, as Coco and I were waiting for the bell to ring and the announcements to start, she turned to me and said, “Daddy?”
     “Yes?” I said.
     “Charlie’s mom drops her off and then leaves before announcements.  I think I should start practicing that.”
      And there it is.  One of those firsts.  The kind that come out of nowhere.  The kind that make you stop breathing for an instant.  She doesn’t need me in the school yard in the mornings any more.  Waiting with her for the day to begin 
     “But I don’t think I should start practicing today,” she continued.
     And the world started slowly turning on its axis again.
     I don’t know if Coco was floating this possibility of independence for herself; saying it out loud just to see how it felt to her.  Or if she said it and saw the panic in my eyes and then quickly withdrew the suggestion for fear that her daddy might cause a scene in the lower yard in front of all her friends.  Regardless, at this point and at least for a little while longer, I get to wait with her until Miss Pope’s announcements start and then until she is on her way to class fully in the custody of Mr. Kallock.  


First Snow

We’re spending more time in the country these days.  Carting the kids back and forth has gotten easier as they’ve gotten older.  There is just less stuff to take back and forth.  Most times we go up on Saturday morning and come back on Sunday afternoon.  We’ll start going up on Friday nights soon.

Watching the snow start to fall.

This year we were up for the New Year’s Day weekend and we had snow.  It was in the forecast so we knew it was coming.  We stayed an extra day to be sure we didn’t miss it.  It was the kids’ first snowfall.  It’s hard to believe they had not yet experienced snow: waking up to the surprise of snow blanketing the countryside, excited to go outside and play, putting on coats and mittens and boots, and then making snow angels, snowballs and a snowman. 

Waking up to snow.

There was even enough snow for sledding.  It was Ken who remembered we had sleds in the barn.  The same sleds Scott and I used as kids nearly 50 years ago; sleds that sat in the rafters in Mom and Dad’s garage for decades, were driven down from Port Angeles with other stuff from Mom and Dad’s garage, to sit in the barn in the country, waiting for snow.  And finally the snow came. 

We’ve been lucky this year.  We’ve had snow twice since then.  Our place is high enough that if there is going to be any snow we’re going to get it.  Once we start down our driveway the snow is gone by the time we reach our gate.

10 hours. 56 minutes.

7:34 p.m.  Laying on the bed.  Daddy and Papa’s bed.  TV’s on.  Margot and Coco and Flynn watching.  On the bed too.  Bubble Guppies.  Sarah & Duck.  Octonauts.  I doze. 

8:02 p.m.  The show ends.  I hear it.  I wake up.  “Time for bed.  Time to brush your teeth.  Let’s go.”

8:17 p.m.  Singing bedtime songs.  “you are my sunshine”  “three little monkeys”  “tickle spider”  I lay down on each bed.  Sing each one a song.  “Funny kiss!  Funny hug!”  Hugs and kisses goodnight.

9:48 p.m.  I wake up.  Laying on Coco’s bed.  Under the Elsa and Anna blanket.  My head on a big green dinosaur.  Margot and Coco and Flynn sleeping.  I hear them breathing.  In the dark.  I get up, gently, slip out of the room, quietly.  Shutting the door.  It clicks.

10:12 p.m.  Dishes done.  Lights off.  I go to bed.  My bed this time.  How long will I sleep before I’m awake again?

12:31 a.m.  “Daddy?  Daddy?”  Margot calls from her bed.  “Yes, Margot?”  “Daddy, will you lay in my bed?”  I lay down in her bed.  I’m asleep again.

1:19 a.m.  I wake up.  With Margot.  Under her blankets.  My head on a giant white bunny.  I get up again, gently, and go back to my bed, quietly.

2:46 a.m.  “Daddy?  Daddy?  Me want to snuggle with you.”  Flynn stands next to my bed.  I lift the covers, pat the bed.  He climbs in.

3:50 a.m.  My alarm rings.  Margot and Flynn in bed.  Sleeping next to me.  When did Margot come in?  I slide out of bed, creep out of the room.  Down the stairs.  They creak.  I make coffee and toast.  Turn on my laptop.

5:43 a.m.  Footsteps above me.  In the bedroom.  I listen.  From the top of the stairs, “Daddy?”  Margot.  Always Margot.  I climb up the stairs and pick her up in the dark.  I whisper.  “Hi Sweetie.  It’s not morning time yet.  You need to go back to bed.” 

6:31 a.m.  Sitting on Coco’s bed.  I gently shake her.  “Coco, it’s time to get up.”  The day starts.