I was freezing cold and soaking wet.
The parking lot had been full that morning, so my son and I had hoofed it from blocks away to the elementary school. I'd given up my side of the umbrella, so the icy rivulets running down my back were an unpleasant reminder that fall had arrived quite early this year.
But when I turned the corner of the hallway, I almost forgot my discomfort. The scene in front of me broke my heart.
There was a dad, on his knees, with his first-grade daughter in his arms. Today was only the third day of school, and she was apparently having a little separation anxiety.
Daddy, for his part, looked bewildered and miserable. He was dressed for work, in khakis and a nice sweater, with his cell phone on his belt. The first school bell had already rung, and the Pledge of Allegiance had already been recited over the loudspeaker. I'm sure he was late for work; I know I was.
But his daughter was sobbing; she was clinging and didn't want to let go. I could tell he didn't want to, either.
I knew the teacher - she was my son's teacher two years ago and she's wonderful. "Are you a daddy's girl?" she said. "I'm a daddy's girl, too. But even a daddy's girl has to let go sometime."
It will get easier, Dad, I promise. For your daughter, at least. But for you ... I think it might take a little more time. : )