Yesterday, I picked up my kids from school. The air had warmed up since the morning, so I wasn't distracted by chill, like I often am by this time in the fall. There's a low metal fence along the edge of the playground where all the adults picking up children must stand; I took my usual place there.
No matter how late I think I'm running, I'm always there before the children begin to stream out from the school buildings, before they make their ways across the playground, before they meet us waiting adults at the fence. It feels like a miracle, like there's some magic that gets me in place on time, even if I've frantically dashed off one last email to work that I was sure would both make me late and look frantically-dashed-off.
But I made it there. I stood alongside other parents, grandparents, childcare providers. Sometimes I chat with the childcare providers who pick up my own kids other days of the week. Sometimes, like yesterday, I just enjoy standing there, waiting.
My kids are never the first ones to show up. I watched as other kids, some in pairs and groups, drift toward me. So many of the kids run this last bit before the fence, and I find myself so moved at how alive and happy they are. Even if they have had a bad day, or if they're not the best runners, so many of them run joyfully at that moment.
As always, my older one appeared first, appeared nonchalent, walking toward me languidly as she chatted with a friend. But I know she'd been looking for me. From week to week, the days I'll be there sometimes change.
She talked awhile longer with her friend, then joined me at the fence. I hugged her and she leaned away a little bit, but that's just her way. I'm always delighted because she is who she is. I kept an eye out for my younger one.
Five minutes later, the younger one appeared. She was walking alone, and I could see her scanning the fence line for me. When she spotted me, she did what she always does-- she broke into a run. That never fails to delight me, either. She ran to my open arms.
The three of us walked back to the car. They would get ready for their next activity; I would help them have a snack and we would talk about homework and school. It felt special; it felt worth writing about.