The other day was my grandson's last day of kindergarten, which got me thinking about the very first day I walked a child to school.
My oldest daughter was always very grown-up and mature beyond her years. On her first day of kindergarten, she informed that she could go by herself and didn't need me to walk her in. I wasn't about to let that happen and insisted I walk her up the stone steps, down the hallway and to her classroom. "All right," she reluctantly agreed, "but no hugging or kissing."
We drove to the school and parked. Students were streaming into the building, yellow buses lined up along the driveway. Cars were parked every which way as more children raced to the doors.
My daughter got very quiet and as I opened her door, she hugged her backpack to her chest. We started up the steps and she peeked up at me. "Mommy?" she said. When I looked down at her, I saw that her eyes were filled with tears. "Are there mean people in there?"
And I was filled with this overwhelming love and a fierce protectiveness. "No honey," I said. "They will all be very, very nice." She didn't look convinced, so I reached out to her. "My hand is right here," I told her; "All you have to do is reach for it." She did, and holding hands, we walked in together.
It's taken me a long time for me to admit when I need a hand. That's what the Challenge Walk, the crew, walkers and volunteers represent for me: a helping hand, support, encouragement and, yes, love. I've learned to reach. Thank you for reaching back.