Even though she had a very tough time falling asleep last night, Emmie still bounched out of bed excited for her first day. I couldn't sleep either, so I this morning I felt like I had one too many glasses of wine last night. Which, in retrospect, might have been a better idea than staying up 'till all hours and cutting vegetables into flowers.
Drop off was buzzing with excited parents and kids. We were handed a poem, but warned that if we read it we would cry. The school secretary was strolling through the crowd with a box of Kleenex. It was all sort of surreal. Emmie had her little entourage of Rosie and Frannie there to see her off. And, then of course, me. I was trying to stay calm watching Emmie while keeping the younger two from beating each other up in front of their future principal. At the same time I was unsuccessfully trying to snap pictures in this huge throng of people. As the final lineup began to walk into K2, I decided it might be better to record some video.
The kids started to move in line and walk into school for the first time ever. In a moment that couldn't have been more perfect to a parents' heart if it had been scripted, Emmie turned around, smiled a huge smile, waved, and said, "Bye, Mama!" I was looking at her, and not noticing all the chaos and waving and tears and parents calling names around me. I also didn't notice that in my hand-trembling nervousness, I had not actually hit the record button on my phone.
Her little owl backpack went through the doorway and out of sight. It was then that I looked down at my phone and realized that I hadn't recorded anything at all. I stood tapping the screen wildly, trying to conjure something that wasn't there. That's when I needed the secretary with the roving box of tissues.
How incompetent could I be? How would I relive that perfect moment without having it on my phone stored with so many less important ones? The one with Rosie's "raising the roof" dance in the back seat of my car. The one with Frannie chewing on her fingers until she chokes. The one where Emmie is snorkeling and all you can see is the back of her. But then I did. I relived it over and over again. As we sat through the parent welcome coffee, the principal's voice faded in and out while I kept picturing it. Emmie is so independent and confident that I thought I might not even get a glance from her as she left me. But she did. Smiling and happy and waving and saying goodbye to me. It was like she knew I needed that.
In some way, I wonder if it's better. Better that this moment between her and me will always be just that. A moment between her and I. Like a zillion other moments that just happen between a parent and their child. Not documented, not shared on Facebook, not on YouTube or a blog. Just something special that I will never forget. And after a pep talk from my own mother, I got an email from Patrick saying one of the most useful things he's ever said: "The important thing is that you were there for her, at her big moment. She won't remember the details, but I'm sure that you will, forever." And he's absolutely right.
Emmie had a wonderful, exciting, perfect first day of school. She loved every minute of it. And it ended just as I dreamed it would. And this time, I hit the right button.