Shortly before Benjamin started kindergarten, a veteran mom told me how the years go by in a flash once children are in school.
She was right.
Benjamin starts sixth grade next week, his last year at elementary school and the final time the siblings will be together under one roof until Ben is a high school senior. I still am in awe of how fast the time has gone.
On the eve of his initiation into kindergarten, I had no idea how this whole school thing was going to turn out. So familiar and comfortable at his day care, Ben was extremely apprehensive about his new school. Not knowing anyone didn't help.
It was a rough adjustment - for both of us. I developed an ache in my gut that lasted until right around the sixth week of school when everything suddenly started to look up.
It took one boy waiting for him at the edge of the playground in the morning to turn Ben's fear and my anxiety away.
That October, we would pull into the drop-off lane at school and rather than looking at me with such apprehension and sadness when it was time to go, Ben would look for Jack. And there he would be waiting, smiling.
Ben would bolt from the van, barely time for a goodbye now. That was all it took - one friend - to make him feel at home, like he wanted to be there and to look forward to the day rather than dread it.
And, as they say, he hasn't looked back since.
Come Tuesday when I drop the kids off at school and hopefully take some photos of the friends gathered together on the playground once again, I know there will be a familiar face in the crowd.
- Julie Gilkay: 920-993-1000, ext. 319, or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JulieGilkay. She is the mother of Benjamin, 11, Grace, 9, and Lucas, 8.