Birthday Memories

This week’s blog-writing-day falls between two memorable occasions. Yesterday was my baby sister’s birthday and tomorrow is that of my firstborn child. Now it’s true that I’ve written about these two on many different occasions, but never about them both in one post. So here goes…

* * *
On the first day of preschool, I’m not sure who was more nervous. My precious boy was only two-and-a-half and I was about to leave him with total strangers. He, in turn, was leaving the familiarity of our street and comfortable abode of the neighbor who cared for him since he was six months old. We drove in relative silence; absorbed in our own thoughts.

The ride to Dunwoody Prep ended all too quickly. I felt sick to my stomach as I helped him out of his car seat and feigned enthusiasm over the start of a new adventure. I knew my words, tone of voice, and facial expressions were being scrutinized. It was critical to maintain my composure. Though a mere toddler, he already could read me all too well and was assessing whether or not to throw a tantrum. I had to get to work and couldn’t deal with a meltdown.

He was uncharacteristically timid as he was introduced to his new teachers and toured around the school. He gripped my hand; trusting me to not let go. And then the time came for me to depart…and I’ll never ever forget the look in his eyes. It was a look I had seen before…a penetrating, eyes-welling-up, pleading look that I first saw many, many years before…

* * *
Although I was only eleven, it was my job to take my three-year-old baby sister to nursery school. It was a short and easy walk from home, so we would hold hands and skip most of the way there. Some days we sang. Others we laughed and giggled. It was our daily special, private time together.

And then, in a Jekyll and Hyde type of transformation, she started screaming as we approached her teachers. Blood curdling screams, “nooooo….don’t leave me!!!!!!!!” The normally happy-go-lucky child screeched like someone was ripping her from limb to limb. The teacher would forcibly unlock and peel her hands from around my legs…and then I’d flee…crying all the way to my own school…

* * *
I escaped Dunwoody Prep to the safety of my Volvo, leaned my forehead on the steering wheel and sobbed. “Not again,” I thought. “I cannot go through this again.” Somehow I had suppressed the memories of leaving my sister at school and now was forced to relive them through my son.

* * *
Today I am comforted by the fact that Randi, forty-eight now, isn’t a scarred or damaged adult as a result of her childhood angst. Neither is Brandon at twenty-eight. And, to the best of my knowledge, neither one of them is holding a genuine grudge against me for abandoning them at preschool.

But, every once in a while, they do seem to conspire, join forces and gang up on me.

Happy birthday to my first two babies. I love you both.

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