Just Write 99

August 26, 2013

We walked through the grass that’s getting too long again, across our yard and into our neighbor’s yard, cut through their driveway and stood on their shiny brown stoop. Elsie was in only a diaper because she was about to have a bath and get ready for bed when I realized we should visit her preschool (yes, at the next door neighbor’s home) before the morning since it had been a while since we’d been inside.

She stepped confidently in, but then when the whole family was squatting down to welcome her and tell her all the wonderful things she’ll be doing, her face crumpled with overwhelm and she put her arms up to me, to be held.

Home. She said. Bye.

I consoled her and showed her toys. Our neighbor told her she could have pancakes or waffles in the morning. She just stared, her big blue eyes all wet.


We walked back home the way we’d come and I said Yay pancakes and she said, NO. Waffles. (Wahsohs.)

This morning we made the same trip and in she went, not a tear or a fuss of any  kind. Bye Mommy, she said.  It’s like she thought it through and came to terms and let go. I learn from her.


Asher and Miles looked so small under the weight of their backpacks. While I was getting ready, I looked over to see Asher lying on the floor, his backpack on, ready. Are you tired, are you sick? I asked.

No, just taking a break from my backpack. 

There he was, on his side, his backpack resting behind him. Sweet relief. He makes me laugh so often.


Miles seemed ready this year. Strangely happy to be going to school when in past years he has not at all liked the start, or the middle, or the end. This is a small grace I need.

Ryan walked him to class and I walked Asher, whose lip started to tremble at the doorway to his room, his eyes down like he was afraid to be caught being sad. The other kids were hopping in, skipping, jumping, loud and excited. He held my hand tighter and pulled me down to the floor with him, to sit by him and the other kids, at the feet of their new teacher. I have to go, I told him, and his face crumpled and tears started to run.

I got up and I whispered that he is so much braver than he knows and that he needs to trust me that so much of this is going to be fun.

I asked the teacher’s helper to come and sit by him and she got down and rubbed his back and I waved and blew a kiss that I hardly got out before I turned around for crying air.

I cried walking down the hall, an ugly cry, with my head up. Yes, dammit. I have a boy in there who is sad. 


In the post office, not wrangling anyone (that is so weird), I stood in line and then at the counter while the nice guy went to get my package from the back room. I suddenly realized that I was rubbing my pointer finger back and forth across my top lip, my elbow on the counter. My Grandpa Glenn always did that, a nervous habit, I guess. I do that and I tighten one hand over and over like my Grandma Helen and sometimes I’ll notice that my hand sits in my lap just like my Dad and my Grandpa Dale. I could write a list of things that I do that come from my Grandma Colleen and my mom and dad, too. My sister, my aunts.

This nervous gesture, at the post office, it comforted me. We are all somehow always together, at least in small ways, even when we are not. I hope my boys feel that. I hope Elsie always feels that too.

Kindergarten is just one of those milestones that hurts in a more profound way. Today, when I pick him up, I’m going to hug him long and I’m going to look in those sad eyes and tell him that I’m always with him. If not now, one day he’ll understand.


This is Daddy saying YAY to convince them that school is YAY…


This is the 99th installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page, and please don’t link to posts that are not freely written in the spirit of capturing moments–you know, don’t link to how-to posts, lists or sponsored posts. Also, please link back to this post in yours so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.

Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word? Thank you!



Elaine A. August 26, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Oh Asher and your tears made ME tear up too! The letting go has it good points but man can it be hard.

And you’ll get used to going to the post office alone. Trust me. ;)
Elaine A. recently posted..Sing Out

tara pohlkotte August 26, 2013 at 9:16 pm

it is those damn backpacks that unglue me. my daughter’s, also going into kindergarten, hits her below the knee. I think there should be a height requirement to be ripped out of their mamas hearts into the real world like that :).
tara pohlkotte recently posted..Dear Girl… {A letter to a Younger Me}

Stephanie Precourt August 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I still panic from time to time when I’m out without them- it is so unsettling to me. They are always with us in some capacity.

Stephanie Precourt recently posted..These new days

Adrienne August 27, 2013 at 5:30 am

Ok, I was holding it together until we got the kindergarten class. I hope he’s enjoying it today! I loved the post office part. It reminded me of my grandma. She’s no longer on this earth, but she’s till with me. ;)
Adrienne recently posted..Holding on to Summer

Miwa August 27, 2013 at 8:01 am

As always, I love your words. My toddler has a long way to go before starting school (or maybe it won’t feel that long?) but I’m nervous just thinking about the big day. I know I’ll be in tears too.
Miwa recently posted..Daddy-o and Mamama

just JENNIFER August 27, 2013 at 11:22 am

Ohmigosh. I could have started crying just now! It is so bittersweet. AND, I am so happy to be linking up with you. Can’t believe it has taken me so long.
just JENNIFER recently posted..His Everything

Stacy August 27, 2013 at 11:59 am

That picture is absolutely adorable. And yes, I cried too on that first day of kindergarten for Annika, even if she wasn’t. And I usually keep it together pretty well. Best wishes to all!

Julia August 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Sometimes I think we cry more than they do when we have to let them go, especially when we know they are sad.
Julia recently posted..Over it

Kristin Shaw August 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Asher’s tears and your tears made me teary too! In many ways, I hope my son is not nervous and does not cry when he is dropped off for preschool next week; and at the same time, the fact that he does cry and does miss me somehow also feels very loving. It’s a big day.
Kristin Shaw recently posted..A letter to my son’s best friend

Ann August 28, 2013 at 10:15 am

I love this post so much. I could copy at least 7 quotes with hearts all around them.

Ann August 28, 2013 at 10:16 am

And 99 just writes!!! LOOK WHAT YOU DID.

Abra August 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Oh Heather,
I haven’t read your writing in so long and I don’t know why! It’s always so beautifully and eloquently written.

Jenny August 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Oh Heather, my oldest starts kindergarten in 6 days. My only thought is don’t cry in front of her. I love these images that you paint with your words.
Jenny recently posted..The Unlikely Roommate

Jenny August 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Oh Heather, my oldest starts kindergarten in 6 days. My only thought is don’t cry in front of her. I love these images that you paint with your words.
Jenny recently posted..The Unlikely Roommate

Vikki August 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Yesterday, we dropped our son off at school and said goodbye for 15 days. Earlier that morning, he cried about being separated from us for so long. In all if his 12 years, he had never done that. Kids always surprise.

Megan Marques August 28, 2013 at 8:47 pm

OMG, this made me bawl, in a good way of course, I guess. Maybe it’s your connection to family, to seeing things through your kids eyes, to realizing a connection with loved ones living and past. Maybe it’s the quick quips at the ends of paragraphs, the realizations into how you are living your life and what you are experiencing, your openess. Maybe it’s because I’m sick or soul-nourishing hungry. Maybe because I am too consumed by work, by a currently disgruntled relationship or because my boy, all of 13 months, is teething. Maybe because you have an awesome family and mine is just beginning and Man is it hard, and shit I hope it lasts. Or because the Everyday Ordinary is soo so important that I’m connecting on a level that I have missed for a very long time. Thank you. I need to read all of your 99 posts + more.
Megan Marques recently posted..Summertime fun

Julia August 28, 2013 at 9:38 pm

That is such a milestone. You can do it!! xo
Julia recently posted..Going Home

Tammy O August 29, 2013 at 9:37 am

Heather – your kindergarten posts KILL me!!!! (In a good way.)

Leigh Ann September 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I love your little pep talk you gave him. I think he’ll remember that always. I can’t believe how much I miss my girls. Here’s hoping this coming week is better.
Leigh Ann recently posted..Some quick thoughts on kindergarten because it’s all I can manage right now

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