So I volunteered in son's class. He was excited to see me arrive on the playground in the heat of the day, and met me with a sweaty hug and big sloppy kiss. As he fell into line to head back into the classroom, he grabbed my hand with his big paw, and pulled me with him, "C'mon, Mom, c'mahhhn." The heat doesn't slow the little ones.
As my body met the cool air of the building, son's little classmate Elsie fell into my legs and then others who knew me greeted me with the Kindergarten hug. I think that's the last year they do that. In First Grade they don't need that reassurance. But in Kindergarten they're still mushy and needy little creatures.
Elsie caught me later. "Come, do the book with me." I patted her curly brown hair and said, "I can help you a little, but I'm here to help everyone."
She wouldn't take no for an answer. She tugged at my sleeve and after trying to pull away a few times to work with the other kids including my own son, I ended up helping her write her latest publication, "The Hungry Kindergartener."
When next she insisted I take up a wand and help her read the room, I realized I wasn't going to spend time with any other kids that day. Elsie needed me. She needed someone. She needed attention.
So I gave it to her.
Son's teacher later let me know that Elsie didn't have a mom, and so she clung on to subsitutes in various forms at school.
Of course, as a mom myself, that devastates me. And, at the same time, I'm worried that one of the few times I get to volunteer in son's class, I didn't spend any time with him.
But, son was fine. His Center that day was Legos with his best friend Rialto. Occasionally, he'd come over and show me a speed boat or jet fighter he'd fashioned from the bold colored pieces, but he seemed content to work with Rialto and let me spend time with Elsie.
Maybe on some level he understood that she needed my attention, too.