When I was little, I loved going to school. Every morning, one of my parents would walk my brother and me down the street to our little elementary school.
Because both of my parents had full-time jobs, I always had to go to aftercare. When my mom or dad finally walked in at the end of the day, I got so excited. Even though I loved school, I always liked spending as much time as possible with my parents.
For some kids, going to school isn’t quite so positive an experience. Even if they have a good time with their friends and teachers, starting preschool or kindergarten can be a hard adjustment.
Liz Petrone’s little boy likes school, but he always has a tough time leaving home in the morning.
One morning, Liz watched as her son started to cry after boarding his school bus. She knew she had to do something, so the next day, she drew a little heart on his wrist.
Liz shared what happened on the Facebook page Love What Matters, where it got a lot of attention.
Within three days, the post had over 8,200 reactions and over 1,400 shares.
The anxiety has been strong with the littlest lately. I don’t know why.
Maybe it’s the way the seasons shift, a little at a time so slowly until it’s not slow at all anymore and it’s become cold so fast that you swear you inhaled the warm air of early fall and you exhaled in a foggy smoke of breath into the holidays.
Or maybe it’s just that he’s been asking me every single morning since he started school in September: “Mommy, is today Christmas?” and forever I’d just laugh and say oh no baby, we have a ways to go, except now that’s not so true anymore and the anticipation is so much I think he might spontaneously combust.
Anyway I watched him start to cry through the bus window as they pulled away the other morning, his face changing at first imperceptible like the seasons and then crumpling into a big rush of sloppy tears, and the bus was mostly gone before I could do anything.
And yet still I tried, standing out in the middle of the road with my hands reaching towards him even as the big yellow box rounded the corner and drifted from sight.
The next morning we sat at the bus stop together and I pulled a pen from my coat pocket.
I grabbed his wrist, kissed the blue of his veins where the blood we share flows through his veins, and drew this heart.
“I know it’s hard sometimes out there,” I told him as the bus pulled up to take him away.
“I want you to look at this heart every time it feels like too much. I want you to look, and I want you to remember that no matter what happens out there someone is here waiting for you to come home. Someone loves you.”
He crossed the road, climbed the bus steps, and I watched this time as his face appeared in the window. I waited for him to see me, to smile or wave or even to cry, but he never even looked at me.
Instead, he looked at his wrist.
I know it’s hard out there a lot of the time for a lot of us. I know the holidays can amplify that and so can the cold and so can the dark. I do.
But maybe what we all need to remember is just that simple. Maybe it’s not a fix, not by a long shot, but it’s a comfort just the same, and comfort can go a long way when you know someone loves you.
Tons of people commented on Liz’s post, sharing their own stories.
One woman wrote, “My mum used to wear lipstick and kiss my hand in the morning when she dropped me off at school so I could look at that and remember she loved me.”
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Learn more about Liz and her family on her blog or Facebook page.