Thursday, April 22, 2010


All my life, I've heard jokes about apron-strings. From Johnny Carson to Carol Burnett to the guy who used to live next door. Sideways remarks about how so-and-so needed to cut the apron strings (the jokes apparently work from either side of the apron).

Most people think of aprons as a rectangle of cloth with two "strings" coming out of the top that get tied around the waist. I think this particular brand of apron is more like a straight jacket, with lots of ties and buckles and long sleeves that hold you safely cocooned in a fabric hug until it's time to be let go.

The release from the "apron" happens in stages. Baby weans itself. Baby learns how to go to the toilet by itself. Learns to walk. To run. Each one is a step away from Mama and toward its own future.

Then it goes to preschool. Usually there's plenty of wailing when that particular buckle comes undone. The child weeps pitifully at being abandoned (I will never see you again!), while Mama weeps for about two weeks at the idea that she is abandoning her baby. This lasts until some savy daycare worker suggests Mom sneak back and peek in the window after dropping Baby off - and she see's that as soon as she's out of sight, Baby shuts up and begins happily playing with the other inmates.

Elementary school is a less dramatic re-enactment of preschool. There's the first spend-the-night away from home and birthday parties and summer daycamps.

Then there's the big one for elementary-aged kids. The out-of-town field trip. I managed to put that buckle off until this year by going with them last year. But this year's trip was too much for me to accompany my son. He was going to be out there, out of town, without me.

This was very exciting to him!

We had to meet at 5:15am to load the bus at 5:30. ZBoy and I arrived at 5:15 and there were only a few people there.

By the time 5:25 rolled around, there were a lot of people there.

Z was buddied up with his friend Jeremy and they waited together to see which bus they would be riding on. There were four classes, two to a bus.

Finally, the loading began and without a backward glance, my baby boy yanked that buckle off and climbed the steps onto the bus.

I know this is a necessary step. I actually work at letting him do things on his own away from us so that he can build the confidence he's going to need when the strings and buckles start flying off in a couple of years. It is not easy.

All day long, I had fantasies of the bus driver falling asleep or the bus being rammed by a drunk or the boys wandering off and getting lost (which would never happen - they're closely supervised). Perhaps he would get sick or lose his stuff or have any number of tragedies befall him. I wouldn't know until the bus doors swung open tonight and he descended the steps in one piece.

I spent the day cleaning my office. REALLY cleaning my office.

No one had to go pick him up at school. It was weird to be home without the kid at dinner time. Darling Man was a wreck while I pretended to be cool.

Finally, at 7:30, I headed out the door to the meeting place. I parked and waited. And read. And drank my Coke Zero. And waited some more. It seemed like they would never arrive, but only 10 minutes later, I saw this:

Never have I been so happy to see a giant bus trying to get into a tiny driveway.

Even better, moments later, I saw THIS:

He had a blast. Saw lots of stuff at the Science Museum in Tampa, bought souveniers, played games, slept and nattered with his friends.

He kept nattering and showing me stuff all the way home, then did the same thing with his very relieved father.

Snip. One more apron-string cut. Thank goodness there are so many more to go.


Jan n Jer said...

You are so right...there are many more strings to cut. Glad you survived this one!

Sandcastle Momma said...

That's a hard one but you survived! Mine haven't been off by themselves like that and it's hard to even think about much less do.
Glad he had fun - we used to visit that museum when we lived in Safety Harbor and it's one of the best I've ever been too.

Michelle said...

If I put a brick on Evan's head, will he stay little? I'm not ready to think about all of this growing up...

gayle said...

Oh it's so hard but necessary!!

jules4tally said...

It is hard. But every time it happens, you see them grow into their future selves a little more.