It’s not necessarily a macho, men-don’t-cry thing. I’m just out of practice having never cried in public, and having led a life void of any teary-eyed examples … save for that time Jimmy Swaggart got caught with a hooker, but he’s probably not the best role model.
It’s like with soccer. Sure I went to a couple of camps as a kid, but I couldn’t score on a header if David Beckham threatened me with another Spice Girls reunion.
If ever I do feel that strange, damp sensation swimming around my eyeball, I naturally mask it — usually by pretending to yawn, or howling in pain and complaining that an eyelash was caught in my cornea.
While walking Jellybean into her new school, the teacher must have thought I was walking out of an insurance seminar for all my wide-mouthed machinations. But the tears were there, even if I refused to let them fall.
It was a momentous day, one that My Lovely Wife and I had crossed our fingers and toes in hopes of coming to fruition. Jellybean was leaving her old school and, as a perk of my new job, was enrolling in the mother of all Pre-K programs. I mean this place makes Harvard looks like a Sweathogs study hall.
It’s called The Learning Center — TLC for short — and awesome immediately comes to mind … as do rad and bitchin’ but I don’t want to climb too far back in the Way-Back Machine.
How awesome is it? It’s got a freakin’ water park.
Not to mention it costs like half of that other school … H-A-L-F! The Buckners can now buy groceries, and not just the Publix brand.
But that wasn’t the reason I was crying.
How is it possible to think of a 4-year-old as being all grown up? After all, she still sleeps on a Winnie the Pooh pillow, has no fewer than three stuffed animals named “Gosh,” recently asked me if zombies are blind and if werewolves come in pink and has been known to carry a Dora the Explorer purse crammed with everything from a butterfly ring to a rock she found in the back yard.
And yet, there she was, walking into her new school like Madonna at the VMAs. She owned the joint.
In a flash, I saw her graduating from high school, then college, could envision walking her down the aisle at her wedding, lying in a hospital bed cradling her firstborn child and then dropping that child off for its first day of “real” school while pretending not to cry.
Geez, kids really grow up fast. But just as I was about to wave goodbye, Jellybean ran back — arms outstretched, plastic jewelry jangling — begging for one last hug before starting the rest of her life. I didn’t want to let go, but the other kids were getting riled up and the teacher was giving me that familiar, yet stern, warning common to the helicopter parents.
Oh, and did I mention that we got there late? Who knew 4-year-olds were on such a tight schedule? By the time Jellybean and I arrived, her teacher was already explaining all the rules. So I gave Jellybean one more hug and a pat on the head, guiding her to an open spot on the floor next to a little girl who was sure to be her new best friend.
Watching through the window, I knew she’d be fine. Now, if only I could stop yawning.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.