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I Kissed His Hand Goodbye

I loved school as a kid. The line from You’ve Got Mail about a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils gets me every time. I am taken back to the excitement of a new classroom, new teacher, new friends… new beginnings. I suppose that is the best part. The chance to start something new and to move ahead in life. 

Like some friends of mine, I was not crying on Jack’s first day of kindergarten, but was filled with anticipation for what the day would bring him. Would he like his teacher? Would it be overwhelming? Would he eat anything all day? Would he meet his best friend? Would he fall in love with learning? … Would he like it at all?

We took the obligatory first day of school photos before all four of us piled into the car to drive to school.

20140813_073453 20140813_073532

20140813_080048When we arrived, we found his teacher and where he would line up. I liked her immediately. Warm. Energetic. Smiling. She knew how to interact with a kindergartner, that was clear. She was also swarmed by students, parents, grandparents and siblings. Any real relationship would have to wait. But I was put at ease as we stood in line with Jack.

He was quiet. Thinking. Observing. Happy. I pulled out my camera to ask him some questions about his first day and his expression changed from excitement to tears as he cried out, “But I’m going to miss you!!”

I put the camera down and quickly wrapped him in a hug, trying my best to reassure him that it wouldn’t be that long before I’d return. But I knew that I could not really take away his fear. Not in one that feels things so deeply. While I love new things, they also completely overwhelm me and I too cry out for the familiar. Jack is so much like me.

I stood up, turned to my husband and when I turned back to my son, Jack’s teacher was there, whispering to him kindly. She had his complete attention. I bent over to listen.

20140813_080118 The concept was brilliantly simple. I would kiss his hand and he would have my kiss with him all day long. And when he listened to it carefully, he would hear the kiss say, “Mommy always loves you.”

I planted a wet one in that little palm and Jack held on tight. He then got curious, uncurled his fingers and turned his palm over to see what would happen. His face crumpled up, “I dropped it!”

“Well I need to make this one stick then!” I think it’s safe to say it did…


I kissed his hand goodbye. And he walked tall and strong into that place of learning, ready to start the next phase of his precious life. I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

p.s. When I picked him up that afternoon and we drove past the school to go home, Jack said, “There’s my favorite school!” I think we can say the first day was a success!


2 thoughts on “I Kissed His Hand Goodbye

  1. Oh Leah! I am tearful and smiling at the same time. Thank you for this beautiful story. I need to remember the “kiss on the hand” when I send Carl to school. Brilliant!!


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