Sending Junius off to kindergarten has been an interesting experience.
When he was in preschool, I knew most of the kids in his class and chatted with most of the parents before and after school. At most, there were 12 kids in his class, so it wasn't hard to keep up with everyone.
Now that he's in kindergarten, we don't see the other parents much -- most families use the car pool lane in the morning and he rides the bus home in the afternoon. His class includes 23 children, so halfway through the year I'm still trying to remember everyone's name. When I ask him who he played with during recess, he usually says he doesn't remember or that he played with our buddy from the neighborhood.
We like his school, but I don't feel connected the way I did when he was in preschool. So after Junius tracked back in to school last week, I was surprised to find a Christmas present shoved into his backpack when he came home. It was a Buzz Lightyear toy, with the following note attached (only the names have been edited):
This is D's mom. D has a Christmas present for you. D was sick prior to school track out, so he was unable to come to school.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To You and your family!
The V's family
p.s.thank you Junius for being D's friends and so good to D everyday. D been saying that you are his best buddy!
While Junius tore into the gift wrap and busied himself setting up the game, I had to duck into the next room to wipe my eyes and pull my melted heart back into place.
The boy who had sent the present is one of a few English-language learners in the class -- he's working hard, but it's tough to understand him sometimes. He's smaller than a lot of the kids, but has a sweet smile. And he told his mom that Juni is his best buddy.
When I imagine Junius as a grown-up, I like to think that he will be smart, funny, interesting, successful, handsome, athletic -- all the things you'd expect a mother to want for her child.
But above all, I want him to be a good friend, to be kind to people so that they want to be his friend, too.
When I asked him if he and D are friends, he said, "Well, yeah. He plays with me all the time." Like, duh, mom. He's still a boy -- he's not divulging a lot of details.
So I'll be filing that typed note from D's mom in my box of Junius' school treasures. Her words meant as much to me as any hand-print artwork or smiley-face report card.
Image from eLifesize, in case you need a stand-up cardboard Buzz and Woody.