And ditto when I came to pick him up and take him home.
Although his first year (which was last year) at this school (where all his brothers also attended) went wonderfully, this time was different. The beginning of this school year was another step that filled me with new nerves.
Last year, the school's gan happened to be in its own building with its own yard, far away from the super-complex of the school, which hosts all the other grades, up to eighth grade.
This year, my son learns in the multi-level building itself.
Of course, there are safety precautions. The 4-6-year-olds sit in classrooms in their own hallway, and there is an assistant in addition to the teacher. They enjoy recess at a separate time, only going out when the older children are back in class and the yard is empty.
I'm also happy that my son's class merited to have the best teacher for that grade, and after seeing for myself what an ideal teacher he is, I'm even happier.
But I'm still ruminating over the what-ifs and concerns.
It was sitting on the bus stop on the way to pick him up from his first day of school that I woke up to the ruach around me.
Other mothers were picking up their children after sending them to cheder for the first time. They were all so excited.
The same kind of call kept ringing out: "Who is your son learning by this year? Oh, Rabbi Rubenstein? That's wonderful!"
There was a cheerful bustle to it all — at the bus stop, on the bus, weaving my way through the throngs of parents and children — that I couldn't quite place.
At first, I thought these mothers were expressing joyous relief that summer vacation was finally over.
But that wasn't it.
When parents express joy and thankfulness that their child has gotten married, it's not because "Oh, we finally got this kid out of the house! Less mess and more room!"
Not at all.
It's a joy and thankfulness of sending them off to really live their life now, to get down to the nitty-gritty of a Torah journey. It's relief at seeing their child finally find their zivug.
And that's when I realized what this cheerful bustle was: These mothers were rejoicing at sending their sons to learn Torah.
This first day in cheder was the first step in their journey to become ehrliche Yidden and fulfill their destinies as bnei Yaakov Avinu.
I don't know why this never hit me before.
After all, this certainly isn't my first child.
How many first days of school have I experienced without ever really seeing the celebration going on around me?
Maybe I was too caught up in all the hectic details and anxieties to notice.
But this new awareness also re-awakened my appreciation for Yerushalmi mothers, who for all their savvy intelligence, still possess a certain temimut in certain areas because they simply don't know to feel any other way.
And bringing their sons to cheder for the first time is one of those areas.
Baruch Hashem, I was able to be affected now by the general ruach.
Yes, I know things aren't going to be perfect and that school always provides challenges for both parents and children.
But I thought that maybe I could just enjoy the bare-bones fact of it: My son had learned Alef-Bet last year and was going to be learning to read Hebrew this year.
And that's the base for a life of Torah-learning.
And he'll be learning all sorts of halachot and stories from the Torah and Midrash — all geared for his age and level of understanding, and all necessary to nourish his neshamah and form the man he'll eventually become, and hopefully create a wonderful Olam Haba for himself, he should live in good health until 120 (and I also wish that also for you and your children).
So I decided to focus on this idea too and let myself get briefly immersed in all the joyous bustle around me. I also decided, despite the distractions & challenges that are sure to pop up along the way, to try my best to carry it with me throughout the rest of his school years.
Because at the core, that's really what it's all about.