While I am looking forward to the end of the school morning grind come Friday, there are also a few things I'll miss about the hectic morning rush through breakfast, hair brushing, lunch-making, and shoe-finding followed by the inevitable herding of scattering children toward the car. Well, I probably won't miss any of that stuff. But once I finally get the girls to school, something fun and good for my soul happens each morning that I won't get enough of during summer break: hugs. Little 6 and 7 year old girl hugs, long skinny arms wrapped tightly around my waist for a good long squeeze to start the day.
It started with one little girl who gets dropped off every day and waits in line without a parent around. She always adored cute little Peanut, and soon she was hugging her each morning before heading into class. Then she started hugging Peanut and String Bean both. Then one day, after I gave String Bean her goodbye hug at the door, the little girl ducked back out of class for a hug from me. The next day she met us at the school gate for her three hugs and held my hand all the way back to the line. A week later there were two little girls waiting for us at the gate. It's grown from there.
The first graders in String Bean's class line up in two lines: boys and girls. Most of the girls wait in line until we get there, chatting with friends and complimenting each other's sparkly outfits. Once the bell rings and the teacher opens the classroom door, the kids take turns hanging up their backpacks on the hooks outside the room before heading into class. And a portion of the girls in line snake back around to where Peanut and I are standing for a hug before heading in.
At this point there are between five or ten girls who stop by for a hug on their way into class. Most of the girls I know, either from play dates or from volunteering in class, but there is one newcomer that I've never worked with before who doesn't speak much English, but calls me "pretend mommy" and gets in the hugging line a couple of times before heading into class. She changed schools about a month ago and had a hard time adjusting. She cried every morning in line, much as String Bean did in the beginning of school, until she joined the hugging line. It's the best way to start the day, sending her off with a little love, brightening her morning and mine. I haven't seen her cry a single time since she joined our little morning love fest.
String Bean struggled with the hugging line at first, not wanting to share me with her classmates. She went through a phase of elbowing the girls aside, guarding me. But then she accepted it as a mark of pride that her friends like to hug me. She's gone from being wallflower to confident seven-year-old this school year, and managing the hugging line each morning is a job she's come to embrace. It gives her a feeling of popularity by association, and I can see how that makes her smile. But she still makes sure that she gets the first, last, and most hugs of them all.
I don't know what will happen next year. Do second graders hug moms before heading into class? Will any of these girls even be in String Bean's class next year? I'm not sure. So I'm going to enjoy my last few days of morning hugs, and hang onto that warm fuzzy feeling as hard as I can.