The Last Day Before the Rest of Her Life

I’m in a mind to remember of all the things we’ve given away in the last five years. The first to go, I suppose, was the Baby Bjorn bouncer, which we strapped Dubsie into back when she was still bald. Then we ditched the reusable cloth G-Diapers — what a disaster that turned out to be — that were environmentally correct but made her room reek of urine. I won’t miss those. And the little knit skullcap that a volunteer made for us at the hospital, I have no idea what happened to that.

I have goodbyes on my mind today because tomorrow is Dubsie’s first day of kindergarten. It will be a happy day, the kickoff to her formal schooling, the inception of friendships we can’t yet imagine, a powerful oar stroke across the Rubicon of girlhood. So much to celebrate, and at the same time, with Dubsie being my only child, I must take a moment to mourn.

Photo of Dubsie by Mara Modayur

A kindergartner doesn’t need the pink moccasins that we slipped on her tiny feet when she couldn’t yet walk, or the size-five tennies that she used to tuck inside my loafers by the front door, literally filling her father’s shoes. Nothing but memories remain of those. There is one pair of pink leather bootlets, with a flower sewn on the ankle, where the prospect of disposal gave us such pangs that we promised we’d bronze them (though they’re still just stashed in a drawer).

Her new school clothes include a pair of orange tennis shoes, size 13. Children’s size 13 shoes are shockingly enormous, and they loom in her closet like teenagers. We also got her a silver backpack that is dismayingly, tragically large — gear for an age we aren’t quite geared for.

Dubsie’s changing pad is long gone, of course. I no longer need to lift her tiny body by the ankles and say ‘pat pat pat!’ in a sing-song voice to entertain while I dry her rump. The species of diapers came and went, each bigger than the next until one day until she slept through the night and they became obsolete. A box of cleaning wipes remain in the bathroom, though they might dessicate before we get around to using them.

Other items, like her blue toddler spoon, linger in a drawer. We don’t need it any more, though that isn’t quite the right phrase. It’s more like I’m setting the table for dinner and need some spoons and why would I grab a different spoon for Dubsie when she can handle the normal silverware? And some time later I notice that the blue spoon hasn’t been touched in who knows how long. I hold it up and ask Do we still need this old thing? And we both contemplate it, Mummy and I, and Mummy pouts out her bottom lip and my eyes gets a little misty, and together we silently recollect the many joyful mouthfuls it conveyed to her mouth. And then, our house being a home and not a museum, we transfer it to the box for Goodwill.

Come to think of it, it’s been a while since she’s used her sippy cups. Those are next for the box. The little tube of Paw Patrol training toothpaste by her sink is nearly empty, and it won’t be replaced because it’s too flavorless for a five-year-old. And the bath toys, uh oh, they are in a dangerous state of inertia; Dubsie ignored them when she showered all by herself last week.

Mummy reached into the closet and pulled out the ingenious, collapsible booster chair that she bought years ago at a convenience store. It used to be Dubsie’s throne, parked at the dining table and flecked with dried oatmeal. Now we only haul it out on Saturday mornings when she watches cartoons. Mummy asked, Can we give this away? NO, I say, Dubsie isn’t ready. Though Mummy knows it is someone else who isn’t ready.

Dubsie’s first bicycle, which she got just last Christmas, is probably next to delete, for crying out loud. She lobbied for a bigger bike and we relented. It’s a great new ride, lavender and decked out with tassels and a kickstand. The first bike, though, is still firmly in my mental embrace, despite being so small that it makes her look like a circus monkey. She rode that bike to preschool, gliding alongside me and darting ahead. This new bike is a swifter steed. So swift that an ambling adult won’t keep pace.

Tomorrow Dubsie will take her first brave steps into a primary school classroom, and that is wonderful. But from where I stand, she will march at the head of a parade — a bobbing cavalcade of onesies and jigsaw-puzzle pieces, of stubs of crayons, of proud but dainty stretch pants, of battered shoes and chewed-on straws, marching into the past, marching into the future, and receding, receding, receding.



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