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A Conversation About "Tender Garden"

“Mom, Jack says that this year everyone in our class is going to go to a tender garden.”

“I think Jack meant Kindergarten, Anders.” We were on our way to pre-school and this was the first time he had spoken during an otherwise quiet drive.

“Oh. Well, that’s not what Jack calls it. Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure and Jack is right. You will all start Kindergarten in a few months.” My heart beat a little faster when I said the words.

“I’m going to ride the bus to Kindergarten,” he paused. “I’m going to ride it all by myself.” I’m not sure which of us was more uncertain.

“Yes. You could do that… Or I could drive you there, too.” My eyes met his in the rear view mirror. I watched resolve replace reluctance.

“No, it’s okay. I think I will like riding a bus to school.”

That moment rushed forward to meet me — the moment where I watch a tiny boy with a big book bag climb the steps of a yellow school bus. Only, it wasn’t fuzzy and distant like it was in all the times I imagined it in years past. It was sharp. It was clear. It was soon.

“Mom?” He interrupted my thought. “Can I bring my lovey to Kindergarten? I can zip him up inside my book bag just in case.”

“Yes,” I smiled. “I think that will be just fine.”

We’re going to ease into this together.

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