An­other first for both of us

The Covington News - - OPINION - AM­BER PITTMAN COLUM­NIST Am­ber Pittman is Edi­tor of Elec­tronic Me­dia at The Cov­ing­ton News and can be con­tacted at apittman@cov­news. com

I re­mem­ber bring­ing my son home from the hos­pi­tal, this huge, nearly 10-pound baby who ter­ri­fied me, but also filled my heart with a ridicu­lous amount of love.

I re­mem­ber his first time try­ing food, his first cold, his first steps. … Th­ese cer­tainly aren’t mem­o­ries that were lost to me, but they are ones that don’t typ­i­cally run on a photo slide show through my mind, es­pe­cially at 7:30 a.m. be­fore I’ve fin­ished my first cup of cof­fee. But it’s not ev­ery day that your only child starts Pre-K. For weeks I have been pre­par­ing him for what he calls “big kid school.” He’s seemed un­fazed, but I an­tic­i­pated that would change Fri­day when things got real. When I asked him if I could take a cam­era into the school to take his pic­ture in his class­room, he in­formed me that I was “go­ing to em­bar­rass him.”

He was cranky at the thought of a pic­ture be­fore school, and an­noyed that I had to wake him up an hour be­fore his reg­u­lar wake-up time. What he wasn’t was sad or scared. The ride to school was un­event­ful and filled with phone calls from his Grammy and his Daddy wish­ing him well and re­mind­ing him to act right.

I fig­ured the tears would come when we started into the school, me loaded down like a pack mule with var­i­ous bags of sup­plies, clutch­ing his hand. The fact that I was clutch­ing a lit­tle tighter was not lost on me. It seemed al­most like Colin was hold­ing my hand, in­stead of the other way around.

Mr. I Hate Pic­tures was gra­cious, and posed with a smile for a WSB re­porter who was snap­ping some first­day shots at the front of the school. He walked through those front doors, and down the hall­way like a man with a plan, no worries, merely glanc­ing at the boys and girls crying in front of class­room doors, and those be­ing given ob­vi­ous pep talks by par­ents in the hall­ways. In my mind things were play­ing like a movie mon­tage, re­mem­ber­ing all the times I guided my son: through child­hood mile­stones, strep throat and ear in­fec­tions, and a di­vorce that knocked the air out of both of us for a few months. And here he was, guid­ing me into his el­e­men­tary school.

This couldn’t be nor­mal be­hav­ior for a Mommy. I looked at the other par­ents, won­der­ing if they were think­ing the same thoughts I was, if they were re­mem­ber­ing their chil­dren as ba­bies and try­ing not to cry.

We walked into his class­room and Mrs. Stud­dard, my son’s first “big kid school” teacher, took over, guid­ing my son to a ta­ble. Af­ter a quick kiss and a hug, his at­ten­tion was else­where, and I was left stand­ing in the class­room, watch­ing my son trans­form from my lit­tle baby into my lit­tle boy.

I walked back through the hall­ways of Mid­dle Ridge in a daze, try­ing to keep it to­gether. My bot­tom lip poked out and my eyes welled up. As I walked out­side and headed to­ward my car, the prin­ci­pal, Mr. Fore­hand, asked me how it went. He took a look at my face and said some­thing that I will prob­a­bly never for­get and some­thing I needed to hear so very badly: “We’ll take good care of him.”

And I knew they would. I knew they would take care of my baby, that Mr. Fore­hand and Mrs. Stud­dard and ev­ery other per­son in that school would look out for my baby, and that he would be OK. And I would, too. Of course, be­cause I was a mess, I for­got to give his teacher his lunch money and had to go back in. Colin looked at me and said he wanted to go home, but went right back to his col­or­ing when I told him he had to stay.

No tears, no yelling, just back to the busi­ness of be­ing a big kid at school. Of course, I sent an email to his teacher that af­ter­noon, ask­ing about his day.

The fact that his teacher said he was “very smart and fol­lows di­rec­tions” puffed me up — and made me won­der if maybe there was an­other Colin in her class, since mine rarely fol­lows my di­rec­tions with­out some sassy lip. She might tell all the par­ents that, but I’m go­ing to as­sume my kid is spe­cial, be­cause that’s my job as a Mommy, to be his big­gest cheer­leader and the pres­i­dent of his fan club. So now my kid is in el­e­men­tary school. We’ve made it through midnight feed­ings, through ill­ness, through potty train­ing and di­vorce, and now we’ve made it through this.

We’re rock­ing this whole Mommy and Colin thing, and we’ll make it through other things as well.

It’s pretty hum­bling to know that this awe­some lit­tle boy whom I guide can now guide me through some tough times as well. My fierce lit­tle baby is be­com­ing a fiercely in­de­pen­dent lit­tle boy, who will — I now know with­out a doubt — be­come a fan­tas­tic man one day. I saw glimpses of that Fri­day, and I couldn’t have been more proud of Colin, and of my­self.

Now if I can just get a start-of-school photo with­out all the at­ti­tude, we’ll be do­ing great.

One mile­stone at a time.

Am­ber Pittman /The Cov­ing­ton News

Colin Pittman may have been grumpy tak­ing his be­fore-school pic­ture, but he didn’t have the same dis­dain for the “big kid class’’’ it­self.

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