The morning started smooth and easy, a familiarity to the long-forgotten routine of showers, lunches, and backpacks. It was maybe an exceptional morning in that they were served a hot breakfast, instead of fending for themselves with the cold cereal and the eggo waffles.
They seemed so comfortable with what lay ahead. No nervous chatter. No endless questions. Their serene state and happy attitudes filled the air like a thick, warm blanket.
Yes, they both answered for the fourth time, they had everything.
The oldest boy politely inquired about exactly where the first-day photos would be taken. He smiled and shrugged his shoulders, embarrassed and slightly worried that he'd hurt his mama's feelings. Knowing the bus stop has been off limits for several years now, she reassured him that all the photos would be taken from afar.
The boys laughed at each other, and hugged their mama tight. Glancing nervously around to be sure there were no witnesses, they posed for the obligatory photos outside.
They turned without another thought and walked to the bus stop, chatting together.
Their mama's heart broke just a little bit.
One boy forgot his schedule and came tearing home to get it with a sheepish grin on his face. His mama laughed and told him to hurry, shaking her head in just that way mamas do when they know they were right.
And then, the big, yellow bus came and took them away. As it seems to do with increasing frequency every year.
The little girl was surprisingly easy to rouse from her sleep. In spite of her pleas to be home schooled forever, she was ushered downstairs and fed a hot breakfast of her own. She moaned and complained, worrying needlessly about lunch table assignments. She debated out loud about various hair styles for the day. She happily slipped into her new clothes.
She sat on the driveway waiting for the bus, not afraid to take the pictures with her mama. She posed in several spots and offered suggestions for the best angles. Her mama smiled, hugged her, and laughed at the little girl who seems to know it all.
They talked for a few minutes, and then in the distance, a familiar rumbling was heard. The squeaky brakes left no doubt that her turn was soon upon them.
She hugged her mama one last time, put on her very best smile, and climbed aboard.
With summer freckles on their noses, excitement in their toes, and melancholy in their mama's heart, they begin another year.