Here is what I know how to do

… for you, my five year old, sleeping on the very edge of your bed on this night before the first bus ride to school. I would like to reach out and rearrange you back to the center of your bed, but instead I’m going to leave you where you are, trusting that you’ll stay put.

I’ve tried to live out as much calm in front of you as I have known how to, these five years: as much active kindness, as much confidence and care and humor and curiosity as I could come up with. Not just for your sake, you understand, but for my own as well. Inevitably, once I knew that you were watching me, the choices I made became affected by that knowledge. I have just enough hubris to hope that some of them prove useful, and come back to you when you need them, in the days ahead.

You will spend more waking hours out of our sight than in it, soon, and all I can send with you are the attitudes you’ve developed from your genes and our days together … and of course, your lunch box. So I’ve baked a loaf of banana bread tonight from which to send slices with you, and made a new batch of mayonnaise for sandwiches this week. This is what I know how to do: to combine the ingredients necessary to make something to hand to you and hope it will carry you through your new days.

You will, of course, adapt to these new rhythms smoothly, and by the end of this week, will be as comfortable in your new classroom as banana bread batter poured into a loaf pan. Who you were as a four-year-old will be as distant from your mind as the caterpillar is to the monarch butterfly, winging to Mexico. These last five years, though, will loom large for your mother and I, and we will never truly lose the initial impressions we made of you. Not out of malice, mind you, but because that’s what parents do, in my experience, and we will be no different. We will remember you bathing and cooing and learning and crying, and we will see those moments in your eyes even as you find new pursuits and chase new friends.

Know that we’ll always have banana bread for you.