Brynn holds up the picture in front of her, it’s caption reads, “Brynn’s first day at preschool, Sept 9th, 2015.”
I snap a picture of her dimpled and smiling face and auburn curls. As soon as I am done, she drops it and runs for the door, “Let’s go daddy, we gonna be late!” I laugh a little and chase after her. I make a few last minute attempts to straighten the mess of locks adorning her head and she makes a last few attempts to dodge me and tell me no.
I’ve had mixed feelings leading up to this day. For the past four years, it’s just been her and I—all day, every day. Will she be okay? Will she cry? If she does cry, will I be able to pull away and leave her with this group of strange women that call themselves preschool teachers?
There was only one way to find out.
We pull into the parking lot and I gingerly back into a parking space (there is no head in parking here). As soon as I put the car in park, Brynn is furiously trying to unbuckle herself. “Unbuckle me daddy, I need out,” she demands. I reach back and click the little red button and she bursts out of her car seat like a jack in the box. She stands on the floor in the back of the car vibrating with nervous energy, “I so essited!”
We climb out and make our way into the building. I walk with deliberate steps, she pulls at me furiously to move faster. I ask her to stop and turn around because I want another picture of her at the door. “Daaaaaaaad, hurry!” I click away and grabs at my hand and pulls again.
When we enter her preschool, it is abuzz with parents and children; it is also entirely too hot and I am instantly uncomfortable. I start tugging at the neckline of my T-shirt. We find her hook and hang her bag and make our way to the washroom. Morning routine at the school is, hang your bag, wash your hands, check in with teacher. As Brynn washes her hands she looks over at me and the baby she once was is now a little girl. My eyes start to fill and I blink them away furiously.
It would be unsightly for a 250lb heavily tattooed dad to be crying in a preschool.
As she makes her way into the classroom and we meet her teacher, Brynn blossoms even more into an excited and chattering child. She turns and says, “Bye Dad,” and I stand there slack jawed. I don’t want to leave, I want to stand and watch and wait and I need a hug and a kiss and a…
Her teacher, probably familiar with the emotional dad face takes one look at me and tells Brynn to go give her dad a hug and a kiss. Brynn runs over and throws her arms around my neck and I swoop her up like a scene from a tacky 80’s movie. “Okay, put me down, I wanna play.” I chuckle and down she goes. She runs back to her table and resumes right where she left off. I wave to the teacher and make my way out. Each step seems to bring more water into my eyes and I mentally coach myself to get the car before someone sees me.