Yeah, so, when I was a kid I was really afraid of getting old and dying.
For some reason, I associated the first day of school with getting older, and when you get older you’re just that much closer to dying. Thankfully, I didn’t know that you can die at any moment; that dying wasn’t just for the elderly. Oh man, that would have really fucked with my head. Also, I didn’t associate my birthday with getting older, because cake and presents. The first day of school meant I was getting older and when I get older I was going to die.
From first grade through the sixth grade, I would lose my shit for the first two weeks of school. I would cry every morning when my mom would drop me off. Not just cry; I would completely lose my mind. I would scream and hold on to the car door. My mom would have to pry my hands off the car door and drag me into school. I would sit at my desk and cry for a bit in the morning, and then eventually I would get over it. But it would start all over again the next morning. I don’t know if I thought that not going to school meant I wouldn’t get older. I think it was more like if I was going to die I didn’t want to spend my time sitting in school. Either way, this went on for about the first two weeks of every school year throughout elementary school.
I was an awesome kid, right? Seriously, what a pleasure I was; a pure joy. My poor mother. I don’t know how she dealt with that shit.
For months when I dropped my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin at preschool, he would cry. He would pound on the door and have to be restrained by teachers as I left. It was heartbreaking. I would run through the playground to the car, where I would break down and cry.
My friend John told me that the trick is never to look back: “It’s like in the movies when someone walks away slowly from an explosion, and they never look back. You have to do it like that. Don’t look back. It’s better that way.”
Eventually, Calvin got over it. I walk him into the school. We say, “I love you,” and we hug at the door. He’s fine with it.
Most of the time.
It’s tough after the holiday break. He was home for almost two weeks – spending time with his family, watching TV, playing and basically doing whatever he wanted. This week, I’ve been walking him into the school as usual, but when we go to say our goodbyes, he hugs me for an extra long time. And when we say “I love you,” he is holding back the tears.
I can see him trying to be brave, and it just breaks my heart. He doesn’t start full-on crying, but he’s choked up, and that makes me get choked up. He lingers at the door and watches me leave, and I run to the car before I start balling in front of the other parents … again.
I don’t think Calvin is associating going to school with death. I think he’s bummed he can’t lay around on the couch and watch “Super Why” all day. I get it. I would rather lay around on the couch and watch TV all day, too, but I have to go to work.
Growing up is the worst.