They run out to the van after the bell rings and ask. Eyes twinkling bright at me reflecting rays of sunshine on an unusually warm Michigan March afternoon. Backpacks are tossed through the sliding doors and I nod nervously to go ahead. I wait as they make their way down the sidewalk toward the elderly crossing guard. They shrink down and far out of my sight and knots twist in my gut. Throwing the van in drive I roll down the pavement and catch up. Spotting them ahead I breathe in and the tension fades. As I pass them I watch in the rear view mirror and can see the springs in their steps. They are practically skipping home. I know that they are pleased with this new found bit of freedom. I know that they wanted to walk home all by themselves without a stalker mom rolling by and checking up on them. I think about this as I put it in park at the busy intersection and wait for them to cross. I have to make sure no one runs them over. Ayla asks what we are doing from her booster chair in the back. I mumble some reply as the minutes pass and they make their way down the long street to the corner. Micah sees me and turns around and smiles, he waves. Jonah just keeps on a trekking not daring to glance my way. I tell myself he is growing up, coming into his own. He's a tween after all. He just watched the puberty video at school. My stomach churns when I think about it. I don't want to let them go. I want to hold on tight and keep them in my little bubble so badly, but I know that I can't. After I make sure nobody has ran a stop sign and splattered either one of them all over the road I drive down to my house and up the driveway. They aren't far behind but I glance down the sidewalk to make sure they weren't abducted by the park entrance. Wasn't I just pushing them in the double stroller down that same sidewalk? The sun shines hard and my heart shines big for these two boys who come bouncing safe and sound up the drive. Home at last.