Tears roll down her face, quiet like.
I’ve got my camera around my neck to capture my people in the good light and I want to capture this moment, but I don’t.
I simply live it.
“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” I say. “We could wait another year.” She’s been begging to go to public school for an entire year and I know I’ll have to pull some strings to get her in the better school.
I’m trying to make sure she really wants to go before I start pulling those strings.
“I do want to go,” she says, the tears still rolling. “I don’t know why I’m crying.”
She picks at the fraying rope, not looking at me.
The yard is full of children and my eyes move over the clover, watching the others play. They kick a ball and run bases and my girl sits in the middle of their play, not looking at anyone.
I press her, gently, “Are you sad because you’ll miss my awesomeness?” I smile and she doesn’t even look up. So I try again, “Are you afraid you won’t make friends? You always make friends.”
She shakes her head.
“Are you just afraid of being away from all of us all day? You know we’re boring. You’re bored all the time.” I talk a blue streak to try and get her to laugh.
She doesn’t, but she’s no longer crying. She just shrugs her shoulders.
I leave her a minute to wipe a pair of knees that have just found the dirt and she escapes into herself.
I know because I do the same.
And so I let her go.
The boys keep rounding the bases and jumping over my plants and so I gather up the littlest people to save them from the madness. I watch my biggest girl stride across the yard.
She opens the back gate and she’s gone.
Hours move the day forward and she comes back to me when I’m in the kitchen. My back is to her, but I know she’s there and I wait with my hands in the sink.
“I do want to go to school. I’m just feeling sad about being small and alone, but I’d rather go to school than stay here and wonder what it could have been like.” She says it all in a soft rush of words and then she waits for me to speak.
I grab the towel to wipe my hands dry and I turn and just smile at her. “I think you made the right choice. Sometimes the not knowing is scarier than the knowing, ” I say.
She smiles back at me and she shifts her glasses and in my mind I think she’s grown.
And I think she’s wise beyond her years, much wiser than her mama.