This one last year, I get to walk up the hill at three o’clock to wait at the school doors for dismissal. Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong! “Allllllll right students, please listen carefully! At this time all kindergarten is dismissed!” Then “all busers! Busers please!” “Curbside pickup!” “Vans!” And the kids stream out, almost all of them so much smaller than mine now, carrying artwork and too-big backpacks, wearing sweatshirts that say Pokemon! or Penn State! or Pegasus Power!
“All walkers! Walkers are dismissed!” and immediately my son runs out the doors, with his glasses fogging and his long hair flying back. He runs like he’s not sure how long those doors will remain open, like they’re closing, Indiana Jones-Style, just in time for him to dodge through and maybe, if he’s lucky, reach back for his hat. He runs past me, then turns and looks. He’s waiting.
And we start our golden walk home, my favorite ten minutes. We go down the big hill on the wooded path. We go across the street where the guard greets us with his reflective jacket and handheld stopsign (the guard who always holds up the traffic for me even without my kid). We go past the hidden Little Library, tucked under a tree where folks in cars can’t see. We go walking or skipping or running, in coats and gloves or in t-shirts and sandals, over ice or crunchy leaves or hot pavement. We go singing or excitedly recounting recess or planning the afternoon or sullen quiet. We go home to our house on the corner on a hill; we go into our home full of love.
We walk together home from school, just like this, just this one last year.