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Kathy Bradley - A little push is all we need
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    Collin is 6 years old. He has eyes like malted milk balls — round and chocolate brown. He picked up a book from the library table and, following the instructions of the librarian to "Go over there and let that lady read you your book," walked the few steps to where I was sitting and sat down beside me.
    "What's your name?" I asked.
    "Collin," he answered. "She wrote it right here in the front of my book." He pointed to the perfectly printed name his teacher had written under the RIF stamp on the inside front cover of "The Dinosaur Who Lived In My Backyard."
    He then volunteered his last name and when I, thinking I might know his parents, asked their names, he squinted those luminous eyes, stared off into the distance for a moment and said, "My dad's name is Daddy. And my mom's name is Mama."
    Well, of course.
    Collin told me he was in kindergarten. I had to smile. Is there anything more winsome than a kindergartner? Anything more gripping than the openness of that face, the generosity of that smile?
    The day of Adam's kindergarten orientation, he and I left his mom in the classroom talking to the teacher. We had taken only a few steps down the hall when he stopped, still holding my hand, and said, "Kap, I don't think I know enough to go to kindergarten."
    My heart clutched. I want to grab him up and run all the way back to the farm, to secret him away from all the hard and unexplainable things that I knew he would have to endure once he embarked on this existence outside the security of his family's arms.
    I've always thought it most noble and courageous and, well, mature of me that I didn't. Instead, I told him, "Oh, I think you do. All you need to know to go to kindergarten is your name and your teacher's name and how to get to your classroom."
    The blue eyes, fixated on my face, were tentative, unsure.
    "So," I offered, "what is your name?"
    "Adam Bradley."
    "And what is your teacher's name?"
    "Miss Akins."
    "Good. Now let's go out to the front where I'll drop you off in the morning and you can show me how to get back to your room."
    We started at the sidewalk where the car pool lines formed, walked down the long breezeway to the kindergarten wing, took a left and followed the circular hallway to the room where the door was decorated with a cartoon alligator.
    He pointed.
    "Yes!" I practically screamed. "You did it! See? I knew that you knew enough to go to kindergarten."
    Relief showed itself in the slightest upward curve of the corners of his mouth, what — for the usually taciturn Adam — amounted to a smile.
    It is not an easy thing to be an adult who loves, who adores a child. It is not easy to watch while he marches off to a place you've never been or to listen while she talks about people you've never met. It is not easy to acknowledge, even in the smallest way, the separateness of this being whose breath seems to be your own.
    Collin, if he's anything like my Adam, will probably have little to say about his field trip when he is asked about his day by parents who soak up each word like intravenous nourishment. Two weeks from now he will not remember the name of his book or that a lady read it to him. But I will remember enough for both of us.
    As the teacher called the children to line up to leave, I stood and patted Collin on the shoulder. "It was nice to meet you," I told him.
    He smiled. And then, tossing the words over his shoulder as though they were birdseed, not gold doubloons, he said, "Maybe I will see you again."
    I hope so, Collin. I hope so.
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