To get to the other side! (Of course!)
HOW did the chicken cross the road?
One of the highlights of my day is watching my children cross the road to the bus stop.
When the Princess started Kindergarten, Hubby or I always helped her across the road and waited with her for her bus. By the end of the year she was protesting that she could do it herself. Back when I was in Kindergarten, I walked myself to school, so I thought that if she was ready she could do it. She did, but no amount of safety talks could convince her to do anything other than run. She'd get to the end of the driveway, look both ways, lean forward, listen carefully, look again, and then dart across, usually at a diagonal and with arms flapping. She reminded me of a little penguin scurrying on her way, and it always made me smile.
Grade One for the Princess was more of the same. She perfected her little penguin run and added looking both ways again on the other side of the street, as if to assure herself that there really weren't any cars and that she had made it safely. In Kindergarten she would wave to me from the other side, showing me she'd done it, and I'd wave back as we'd share an emotional high five across the street from each other. First graders are so much cooler though and she would subtly turn her back, refusing to acknowledge that she knew I was watching her from the front window. I'd still smile and wave, because I knew she was watching anyway.
Then this year Sweetpea started school. You may remember the first day:
Two steps from the front door and they naturally held hands. It was a sweet moment for me.
Those first few days I crossed with them, but then I was told I didn't need to do that anymore. They had each other. I watched as they looked together, listened together, looked again (and sometimes again and again) and finally dashed across the street together, holding on to each other's hand for dear life, Sweetpea's smooth sprint straightening out the Princess's penguin gait. It was a beautiful display of togetherness.
Then came safety week at school.
Sweetpea pays very close attention to rules of safety.
The first day, there was a long and heated discussion at the end of the driveway before the Princess did her look, listen, look routine and then dashed out for her run, dragging her sister with her. It went on for a couple of weeks, Princess trying to run and pulling hard on the arm of her stubborn sister, who insisted on TRYING to walk.
It finally became too much. There is no more hand holding to cross the road.
What has replaced it is sweet in its very own way. They go to the end of the driveway together. Sometimes they still hold hands--up to that point. At the end of the driveway, Princess goes into her routine, with her hand on Sweetpea's chest in that universal "wait" signal, though Sweetpea is doing some looking and listening of her own. Then away our Princess dashes, arms flapping once again, to the safety of the other side. They both breathe hard for a minute or two, then Princess begins her routine again. This time, instead of dashing out, she yells "OK", and along comes Sweetpea, walking slowly and carefully, safe in the knowledge that her sister is watching out for her. Once she has made it to safety there's a quick hug or patting, almost like football players after a touchdown.
I still smile; relieved they've made it again, and charmed by the way they do it.
And I wonder what the next step in this road crossing dance will be? How will it change and evolve?
Next year their brother gets added to the mix, and my entire little brood will be crossing the road. Will they go together? Will they go one by one, like little ducklings?
One thing will be certain, I'll still be at the window watching, even when the day comes that they drive off in separate vehicles in separate directions.
And I hope I'll still smile.