Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Kindergarten Pick-Up


It’s not a hug but a sideways shove into your legs, his Star Wars backpack knocking your arms instead, and he already has plans to play with Sully, he tells you this in one breath, your lips barely grazing the back of his hair before he runs away, up the hill, towards the playground behind the schoolyard. You do not know Sully, this new friend who chases your son up the hill and away from you. The Jedi on his pack, with his piercing stare and light saber, stares back, watches the distance widening.

From the bottom of the hill, you can see him swinging on the monkey bars, you pause, consider if he needs you there, but you know you must go forward, climb the hill; it is still your job, and you remember too well his smell, the doughy features of his face, how he curled into your chest when they placed him there like some kind of animal, tiny mouth opening like a cave, and something happens in this moment that carves you hollow, makes the scar tissue feel like weight inside your pelvis.

You must climb, climb that hill.

Too well the way his skin was damp and warm, how you could barely feel the weight of him wrapped in your arms, you long to taste his cheek but you know this would be weird and wonder would it be as sweet with newborn salt, skin that has yet to be exposed. You long to feel the purr of breath in that weightless hump of blankets.

You pant, climbing forward, up the endless hill, you heave and huff like a beast, like you are in labor, but you do not stop. At the top, you scan the play yard for your son; he could be any of them, all feet and shoes and thin-muscled arms swinging.

Beside you on the grass, his tossed backpack lies, the Jedi staring upwards at the sky.

He runs now, kicking up grass, tumbling in dirt, sweating through pores starting to sprout darkening strands of hair, and you retract in quiet awe at the power in his haunches, his leap, his growl, his burgeoning power at play; you are weightless at the sight of it, you wait to catch your breath, and you bear down firmly to hold your ground, to feel the roots beneath your feet, waiting for him to come back.


Melanie Pappadis Faranello’s fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received various mentions including winner of The New School Fiction Competition; semi finalist in The Dana Awards for the Novel; finalist in the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction; and a top 25 winner in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest. She received her MFA in creative writing from The New School. Originally from Chicago, she currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and two young sons, one of whom just started Kindergarten.

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Melanie's beautifully written metaphor speaking about the miracle of birth and then the miracle of growing up as seen in a kindergardener is poignant. I enjoyed reading this piece and look forward to reading others of hers.
Your words always break my heart wide open. So beautifully written and heartbreakingly ttue.
This is a beautifully drawn picture for all the senses. I look forward to reading a lot more of Melanie's work!
Tears in my eyes....I have the same feeling over and over about my three kids...snif
The birthing imagery is great, though so vivid it's almost graphic and makes me uncomfortable. I'm sure that's a good thing. Well done.
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