I sat in my car parked just outside the school. I was 20 minutes early before our two oldest children would walk through the doors towards the buses lined alongside the playground.
The sky was overcast except for a slice of sun that shined down upon a row of maple trees. Occasionally a gust of wind whipped through the neighborhood and knocked hundred of leaves off the branches blanketing the streets. It looked like a delivery truck carrying bright yellow and red Post-It Notes had turned over setting the street ablaze with color.
I don’t often have the opportunity to pickup my kids from school. I’m sure Lincoln will tell me what he did at recess, and Luca will explain what she had for lunch. I think back to what I did in third grade, and all I remember is running home from school because my teacher slammed a ruler down on my desk. I probably deserved it.
The bell rings four times and the kids begin running in all directions. Excitement reflects off their faces. I can’t tell if the children are carrying the backpacks or vice versa. I stand just outside Lincoln’s class which doesn’t mean much because he runs out the door and right past me. “Oh, hi Dad”, he says when I catch up to him. He’s wearing a blue and gold crown he made in class.
“Did you know this crown makes me a king?” he asks.
“Oh does it? What does a king do?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. I think they sit around and wear hats”
Luca’s class exits from the back of the school. Lincoln and I stood on the sidewalk hoping she’d notice us as she walked towards the bus. A few minutes went by, and I wondered if she’d already boarded the bus. She would not be happy if I picked up Lincoln and left her on the bus.
As I was about to look for her near the school entrance, I saw a girl in a red sweater running towards us. Her blond hair bounced up and down. But it was her smile I recognized.
“Dad! Dad! I love when you come get us!”
She removed her backpack, threw her arms around my neck and gave me a cold kiss on the cheek.
I threw both backpacks over my shoulder, and took each of them by the hand.
Just in time to skip through the leaves falling in the breeze.