Bud finally had five full, consecutive days of school - making it, literally, the first week that his schedule was not disrupted by surgery, illness, holidays, or snow-induced delay, cancellation, or dismissal since November.
I finally settled on a single, consistent response to Bud's pleas that I not leave him at school: a matter-of-fact "I will leave you every day, Bud, and I'll see you again every night."
Bud's teachers and I finally established a workable drop-off routine: a meeting with Bud's aide at a side door with low traffic and a small audience, and a quick drop, kiss, and exit strategy for me.
I've stuck to the script and we've stayed with the plan for weeks, and for weeks we moved two steps forward and one step back as, week after week, Bud started settling into a routine, only to have it disrupted by a sudden delayed opening or day off in the snowiest winter I've seen in my life. But this week, the weather was with us and Bud's health held up and for five days in a row, Bud had an established, predictable morning routine.
And by Friday, Bud finally - finally - had a tear-free morning at home, a tear-free ride to school, a tear-free drop-off, and a tear-free day at school. His teacher sent me a note that actually called it a "good day" in which he was "more available as a learner." And, don't get me wrong - "good" is good; "good" is delightful - but I'm not quite ready to bank on "good." For now I'll take tear-free.
It's snowing again today. Because it's Saturday, today's snow doesn't disrupt our routine, but as I watch it pile up outside my window I'm reminded that it could have. Had this snowfall come 24 hours earlier, had it come 48 hours later, we'd be facing a delayed opening or yet another snow day. We'd be facing a tear-filled ride, a tear-filled drop-off, a tear-filled morning at school - perhaps several of them, until we settled back into a routine.
Next week's forecast calls for fair weather, so I'm spending the morning today staring out the window and willing the snow to fall, willing the clouds to empty, calling upon the universe to let this be winter's last hurrah, to bring on the frost heaves and pot holes and thick tire-trapping mud of spring. I'm calling upon the universe to end this winter of our discontent and let us settle into a new normal.