I got the chance to pick up Amelia from school! It may be a small task for some, but for me, it was a great pleasure. A milestone. At one point, only a wish, as I'd close my eyes and imagine how she would react to me. Would she show me off to her classmates or run to me and give me a hug? The moment was highly anticipated. I often imagine showing up at lunch time and bringing her some food to sit and chat with her, I always wanted to be that parent.
She graduated from Pre-K Friday, and they had a virtual ceremony on Zoom. Sharing the link with my family I arrived at the physical building when the teacher opened the room to those that were already waiting. They had a lot of technical issues, and it didn't seem as if it was planned as well as it could have been. A lot of parents were typing in the chat their complaints and request as many couldn't hear and they had the ceremony on the wrong camera.
Some parents weren't on mute so I could hear people's conversations and others snacking on potato chips. They had two cameras in the classroom and had the sound coming from the wrong one. Once everyone was muted, the big picture was the blacked-out camera because the one that was showing the kids was on mute. Everyone was squinting at the little box trying to get a picture of their kid in front of the camera, a lot of parents couldn't figure it out constantly texting in the chat.
Amelia was first! Which I loved of course, I always wanted to be first growing up. The leader. In runs in my blood and maybe this is a foreshadow into what her future may look like. Top of her class, captain of the team, first black woman to accomplish something great, I'm speaking it into her life.
I watched the ceremony in my car in front of the school so that I could quickly get Amelia and head to Virginia to my brother's wedding. I was excited to walk into the building as a parent, I've been a teacher, I understand the routine and the atmosphere. My first time walking in as a parent though, signing my name in the book and waiting patiently to talk to the receptionist as I overhear stories of children's behaviors around the school.
Making my way to the desk I presented my I.D and they made sure that I was eligible to pick my baby girl up. They called for her and I waited out in the hallway out of sight so that I can see Amelia's reaction to me. Two teachers were heavily gossiping without regard to me, as a parent, hearing the things they were saying. I'm not the one to make a situation more than what it is but I know I would have never.
It took nearly 10 minutes for my baby to make her way to the office. When she saw me, her eyes lit up with genuine happiness and surprise. Screaming my name and running up to me to jump into my arms was more than what I could ask for. It was so warming, she told me that she missed me so much! I could've cried, but then she followed it up with "I'm so excited that you're here!"
I did hold it together though. I just held her tighter and gave her more kisses than I could count while she giggled happily. As I walked out the door holding her those same two teachers told me that they could tell that Amelia was a daddy's girl. I do love to hear that. I love when people can see the love seeping from our pores. I remember when she was younger and random people would say that by the way she acted towards me. I also remember the fears I carried in her absence wondering if I will get the same connection again.
It was time to get on the road, after waiting a beat for her mom to come bring me her tablet. I had a seven-hour drive ahead of me and I definitely needed a distraction for her besides sleep. The night before, after a podcast, I drove to Charleston arrived at two in the morning and was back on the road at 10am. An experience, and well worth it for the event that we were headed to.
The drive wasn't bad at all, Amelia slept for most of it and talked to me for a little in the beginning. I wish she was awake for that latter part of the trip, when we were driving through the mountains. The wedding was in the foothills of the mountains of Virginia, and to get there was some of the prettiest views I have ever seen in person. There were ravines and cows eating grass. Horses ostensibly roamed freely, and the grass was definitely greener in this area.
Intricate houses were built into the sides of the mountain, unbelievable the construction and the decor. Some were brick, others log, and some the usual but it was more the way they stood and how the houses had a beautiful mix of all three. Every corner I turned seemed to have something new to gape about. I really wanted to wake my baby up so that she could experience it, but I also didn't want her cranky for the rehearsal. A lot of dirt and pebbled roads, hills and dips, a city with built in speed bumps.
Once I finally reached my destination, I saw Amara playing in the pews as rehearsal was about to start. I noticed her spot my car and stop everything she was doing, I could imagine her saying "Daddy, daddy." She couldn't keep her eyes off of me as I drove to my parking spot. In my rearview I saw her start to point as she reassured herself that it was indeed her father.
There's nothing like a daughter's love.
Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.