The end of Ponsahwannatime….

Where has the time gone? I am, like so many of my friends, am looking towards the first day of kindergarten with a mixture of pride and trepidation unlike anything I have felt before.

This particular 5 year old who bears the name Max Archer, and answers to George for Curious George, and has glorious blue eyes and a reptile fascination and a constantly running mind and mouth is heading into Big Boy School.

So many others are as well. But, this one is mine. He has occupied the core of my being for more than 5 years, since the very early days when he actually occupied the core of my being, as a matter of fact.

And oddly, though he has attended daycare and preschool, this feels like a very big step away…

I keep saying, “He won’t be all MINE anymore. I won’t be able to just pick him up early, take a day off with him, and get the teachers in his tiny, loving, brilliant preschool to change things, tweak things a bit for him.”

(My husband reminds me that I rarely am able to just pick him up early or keep him home now, BUT I could, and that’s the difference.) (It’s that whole, “But we won’t be able to just up and go to Paris for the weekend” thing Redux)

Thank God there is no uniform. Not being able to dress him in cozy, soft fabrics with images of the things that he loves might push me over the edge.

I feel like I work to be conscious and present and experience every moment, knowing that they are ephemeral. However, so many last times have passed without notice, until, of course, you notice that they are gone.

I am far from the first mother, writer, or observer of life to notice this… By far…

But that in no way lessens the power and impact the realization has had on me.

Max Archer nursed for a very long time. And yet, I cannot remember that final time, even as I sit here weeping over the loss.

I cannot remember the final time that I wrapped him to my body, or to my hip in a sling, or to my back. I can carry him for short distances now, but even that is glimmering its final moments.

For a long while now, we tell stories in the car, Max and me, especially in the mornings on the way to school.

“Max, tell me a story…”

“OK……Ponsahwannatime there was a little boy….” And off we go. There are oceans, and snakes, and sharks, and all them interact and battle and thrive within the mind of the boy in my back seat.

Ponsahwannatime is his own interpretation of the far too complex “Once upon a time” that began so many of the stories I read to him and told to him as he grew.

And in all honesty, I never, ever heard the first words of any story he told after that phrase, so overwhelmed with love was I by that mispronunciation that betrayed his innocence and youth, even as the dramatis personae got bigger and stronger and, yes,  more violent….

Ponsahwannatime was my reassurance that my little boy was still…. Little…

However, a few weeks ago, Max started to tell me in a story in the car. And it began: “Once upon a time”.

My heart stopped… Not literally, but it definitely clenched and hurt for a big moment.

Ponsahwannatime was gone. Gone. The story that followed this new beginning was, as always, fascinating and funny, though one is not allowed to laugh, as the humor is almost never intentional, as with the recent addition of a recurring character with a helmet that is called, “Mr. Horny”.

And when the story was over, he said, “The End.”

And it was.

And I am really going to miss Ponsahwannatime stories. And I cannot for the life of me remember when that last time I heard one was. Because there was no announcement, “this is the last time…” Because there almost never is.

Saturday morning, as we drove downtown, Max told me a story inspired by Shark Week. It had adventure, science, and lots of danger. It began with “Once Upon a Time” and it was great.

I am sad about the ending of so many things that I associate with this boy’s babyhood. And I reserve the right to miss them. I will be the mommy weeping at the kindergarten drop off on the first day. And the first date…. And the first dance…

However, I am trying to remind myself that all the best stories I have ever known have begun with “Once Upon A Time”.

And that “Once Upon a Time”  is the first line of every single story I’ve ever heard that ends with, “and they lived happily ever after….”

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