I am so excited for him, as he embarks on his journey through school. It is, after all, his journey, although Jude and I will be along for the ride.
At the same time, I am a little bit sad and, I guess, nostalgic, as I think about times past. Zero to 6 + in the blink of an eye, and tomorrow J.P. starts school. Damn.
Lately J.P. has started sleeping with his "loveys" (stuffed animals) again at night, which he'd gotten away from for a while. I wonder if that's a byproduct of his being a little nervous about starting school. If so, I hope Smokey, Gnash, Bruiser, Laker Lovey, Snowbird, T-Rex and Ozzie have brought him some reassurance that things will be okay.
I think, for me, it's the loss of control that troubles me as J.P. starts school. There will be so much going on there with so many difference variables, all of which is totally and completely out of my control.
Will J.P. make friends? Will other kids accept him for who he is? Will he do well in school? Will he like his teacher? Will he like USN? Will he like school in general? Will he be scared? Will he smile enough? Will he fit in? Will he be a leader? Will he be nice to other kids? Will he succeed? Is he ready?
So many questions, banging around repeatedly inside my head like it's an echo chamber. So few answers.
I remember Ronnie Henderson honking his horn at me as he drove past J.P. and me strolling down 10th Avenue. It was our first walk together in the City Elite stroller. Later, Ronnie told me I was literally beaming with pride as I waved back to him.
I remember holding J.P. on the front porch swing after dinner in the spring and summer evenings, swinging and singing to him when he was a tiny baby, glancing at Jude through the window as she ate dinner and watched television for few minutes in between feedings.
I remember breathlessly calling Jude on my cell phone from our front yard while she was napping upstairs, excited beyond belief because J.P. had crawled for the first time on a blanket I had thrown on the ground.
I remember J.P. walking for the first time on our small back deck, staggering like a drunken sailor from Jude to me and back to Jude again, wearing his "Basketball" t-shirt.
I remember strolling all over the neighborhood with J.P. on weekend afternoons while he napped in the stroller. Bongo Java, 12South Tap Room (ah, Sweeney), Mafiozza's (ah, Doc), Frothy Monkey and others too numerous to name.
I remember so many Sunday mornings at Bongo Java, just J.P. and me, having a quiet breakfast at the middle table in the small back room, him sitting on the window seat beneath the large window that overlooks the back parking lot.
I remember listening to the Avett Brothers' "Left on Laura, Left on Lisa," the first song that J.P. and I really fell into love with together. "Play that again, Dada," he said, over and over, as we drove around the neighborhood.
I remember his first meal out with me flying solo, at Tabouli's on Belmont Boulevard, the predecessor to La Fiesta, then later, Chago's Cantina.
I remember running up and down the side of Belmont Boulevard one spring evening after a hard rain, the running water splashing over our shoes as we laughed and laughed. People watching smiled as we splashed down the street.
I remember playing in the "doctor's office" (a stairwell) at Belmont U., playing college upstairs in the student center and many, many evenings spent on the soccer field there. So many happy memories of time spent together at Belmont U.
I remember coming home from work one night and listening to Jude and J.P. playing and talking quietly in the nook upstairs, my favorite musical teddy bear playing its music softly in the background.
So many memories. So many memories to be made.
Godspeed, J.P. Know that on this night, the night before your first day of kindergarten, your daddy loved you and was so very proud of you. You're everything I could ever want my firstborn son to be.