I took Monday off from work to pick my nephew up from Kindergarten. His parents were both busy with work and my mom, who usually picks him up, was away in Utah visiting relatives. I try to snatch up any opportunity to hang out with Finn because, well, to me he’s the coolest kid ever (Auntie bias, I am allowed).
I arrived about 20 minutes early. I was concerned about traffic and getting lost, unnecessarily apparently. I found his classroom and peered in. There he was at a table with some other boys playing with dinosaurs. He looked so grown up, it kind of broke my heart a little. When did he get so big?
When the class let out he pushed his way through the crowd of kids blocking the door with a big smile and ran up to hug me. We gathered his things and, holding hands, made our way out to the parking lot. He knows his way around, his routine, names of classmates- he’s this little tyke who is independent in a way I wasn’t prepared for. I can only imagine how I will feel when I have a child of my own. Watch out, heart.
We sat in the car for a bit while he ate some snacks and we chatted. He told me about how his class, called “The Bat Clan”, sings a version of the Batman theme song when they come inside from recess. How they went to the library and got books about Pete the Cat. Kindergarten seems pretty cool. But seriously, how is he school-aged already?
I roped him into coming with me to a couple of stores (I was looking for supplies for my Halloween costume). He said sure but that he gets a toy if he comes. What a racket! But of course, I agreed and off we went. At Target I came up empty on the costume front but he spent 20 minutes going up and down the toy aisles pondering which toy to pick. He’d point out which toy he liked and I’d be all, “Sorry dude, that’s too much money. But I’ll try to remember that for Christmas, ok?” They purposely put the expensive toys on the shelves at eye level with kids (damn them!). “What about some Thomas the Train stuff? Are you into that still or are you over it?” I asked him. “OVER IT!” he said as he walked right by it with nary a glance. Okay then. He’s 5 going on 12.
I’m counting down the minutes, trying to get him to make a final decision. “10, 9, 8, . . . ” “STOP COUNTING!” he told me. But we were already late and traffic was going to be bad. Finally, after much negotiation, he chose a samurai sword. Swords, superheros, animals- these are his new interests. Later, Thomas the Train.
I remember when he was little and I changed my work hours to watch him while my sister went back to work part-time. Those hours I had with him each week are still some of my favorite of my life. I look at him now, growing up so fast, and am so grateful I am here in the same city as him, that he knows me, that I get to see him grow from a baby to a toddler to a young boy. I hope he always knows how important he is to me and how much I love him.