"Just tell me if you see anything that is of concern," I say to my son's new teacher. "Don't try to spare my feelings. I want to know."
I sound so self-assured, reasonable, like a mother whose heart is impermeable, encased inside a bullet proof vest.
Then at school pick-up a parent makes an off-hand comment about my child, and in that comment I hear a thousand judgments wrapped up in layer upon layer of kindness and concern; and I picture a teacher contemplating whether now is the right time to approach me or if she should give it a few more weeks to settle, time to wait and see.
Before long my boy is beside me, handing over his backpack in exchange for the scooter he insists I bring with me each day at pickup time.
"Let's go," he barks. And with that we are off, racing around the park, negotiating how we will fill in the hours before it is time to collect the big kids.
At the car I call my husband, hoping he can meet us for lunch, knowing that he will let me talk for as long as it takes to work loose the hard knot of anxiety that has formed inside me. But he is out of the office and without his cell phone.
We go to lunch anyway and on the way my son draws a bird with his new markers. He is so proud of himself, declaring that with his latest drawing he is now an artist. Another cafe dweller shows him how to draw a different type of bird and my son replicates it with great precision. I beam, unable to disguise my pride.
I let my him talk me into buying a chocolate brownie. We split it in half and the overwhelming sweetness proves to be a welcome distraction.