On the way to preschool this morning, Genevieve said, “I’m big enough for homework now. Can you please tell Miss Alice?”
To which I responded, “Why don’t YOU tell her?”
“I thought the mother had to say it so the teacher could know that I can handle it.”
“I’m pretty sure Miss Alice has already figured out that you can handle it.”
“I think so.”
“Then why didn’t she give me some homework yet?”
“Maybe she was waiting a little longer before starting in on all that. This is only your third day, right?”
“I’m ready now. I really need some homework now that I’m a big girl. I have a folder for the homework in my backpack…if she gives me some today.”
Later, when I picked Gigi up from school, she couldn’t wait to show me the homework sheet in her folder. With a straight face, her teacher explained to me how the picture should be colored in and how Gigi could practice writing her name over and over at the bottom of the page.
I escorted Gigi out of the school parking lot toward our car, parked street side, as always, near the white house with the double giant palm trees on the front lawn. I lugged the Dora backpack, heavy with the Tinkerbell lunchbox and the Dora Homework folder inside. I could smell the half eaten apple from her snack. Was it rolling around loose within the backpack? That was going to be messy.
I was pleased, truly I was, for my extroverted, bubbling little genius of a preschooler to have a sheet of homework that she was so proud of, but I couldn’t help feeling a little homesick for infant Genevieve as well. For just a moment, as we shuffled along the gravelly parking lot, hand in hand, the world weighed heavy on my heart. My mind skipped forward to a ridiculous approximate vision of Big Girl Genevieve, as she sat at our kitchen island, head bent over a text book, her long fingers squeezing a pen tightly while scribbling away at some difficult school task.
I clasped the pudgy hand of my three-and-a-half-year-old tightly as we paused in unison to look both ways before crossing the street to the car. I don’t want to work on homework with this sweet child…my last…just yet. Stay here next to me, Genevieve. I know you are no longer a baby, but stay here for a while. I need more time just like this.