"We'll be right here!" I exclaimed to my son, as he went into the school on his first day. As the doors closed, I couldn't help but be sad. I mean, Miles and I have been asleep for nearly 10 years, and our son isn't a baby anymore, he's a preteen! Just as the doors of P.S. 118 shut, I started to tear up.
"Honey, what's the matter?" Miles asked.
"It's..It's just that...our son is growing up, and we weren't here for much of his early life! I didn't think much of it when we came back from San Lorenzo and the rest of the summer, but it just dawned on me when Arnold was leaving for school."
Miles sighed. I could tell that he didn't realize it beforehand either. "I know Stella, but at least we are back with him now. Who knows how much longer we would have survived with the sleeping sickness if Arnold didn't save us."
He was right. Our son, and his friends, saved us from our comatose state, and I will forever be grateful for that. However, I couldn't help how I felt. "That's true, but it just still hurts so much. I mean, don't you feel the least bit cheated out on?"
Miles looked down at his feet, and said, "I do. I hate the fact that he has experienced so much without us, from helping out the people in the neighborhood, heck, he even saved the neighborhood!"
My heart went into my stomach. Miles did feel the same way I did, and although it felt good that I wasn't the only one who was upset, it certainly wasn't good that we both longed for what we couldn't have. "I wish we were here to give him advice, to console him when he was sad, to give him the childhood he deserved." That was the part that really got to me. It was the fact that I was not able to be a mother to him, when he needed us the most. When Miles and I were in San Lorenzo trying to find a cure for the sleeping sickness, I was happy to help, but I was counting down the days to see my boy again. Unfortunately, that happened ten years later...
Miles walked over to me, and put his arm around me. "Stella, you are an amazing mother to Arnold, and we have a second chance at this. We will never leave him again, no matter what is going on in the world. Our son is the only thing that matters."
I couldn't help but smile at that revelation. We will never leave him again, no matter what happens. That is what I loved about Miles. He could always cheer me up, even when things didn't seem to go our way. As I was smiling at Miles in adoration, he had an uncomfortable expression on his face.
"I hate to change the subject, but Stella, are we really going to sit here all day and wait? We can come back you know." Miles said.
I didn't want to leave here. I had already left him enough in his life. "What if he looks out the window for us, and we aren't here?"
Miles laughed, "Honey, I think Arnold will understand if we left for a little bit. I mean, these stairs are not comfortable on my tush!"
I could tell that he was trying to make me laugh, and it was working. "Considering we slept on a concrete slab for ten years?"
"Hey, I am still paying the price for that!"
"Okay, maybe you're right. Do you want to go to Slausen's? I am craving one of their sundaes." That was the truth, however, I think I just wanted something sweet to numb the pain.
"Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about that place! Let's go!"
While on the way to Slausen's, we looked at the neighborhood. Some things had definitely changed, while others still stayed the same. The walk just kept reminding me of Arnold, but not in a good way. I took a deep breath, and looked to the left. "There it is!" I said in a more exciting tone than it should have been. I was just glad to get into the shop and not be reminded of the heartache.
Once we got our sundaes, we headed into a booth. Miles dug into his sundae, while I was looking at mine with an unappetizing look. I didn't want to eat anymore, I just wanted to finish what we started talking about.
"Do you feel like you don't know Arnold?"
"What do you mean?" He asked, taken aback.
"Well, we've been gone for so long, do we even really know him? Like for instance, he has a girlfriend, Miles."
"I mean, I do, but I think there's just more to learn Stella. We have only had two months to bond with him."
"I know. What if we aren't the great parents that he thinks we are?"
"Where would you come up with something like that?"
"Since the minute we woke up, and I saw Arnold's face."
"Stella, just because we were asleep for ten years, doesn't mean we have forgotten everything about parenting. Sure, there might be a few hiccups, but what parent doesn't have that? Besides, we have my mom and dad too."
I nodded, and despite the feeling of being cheated out on, I felt a little better. I don't think I will ever lose that feeling of being robbed out of my son's life, but Miles was right. We continued to eat our sundaes, and got a few more. Miles and I stayed there until three o'clock, in which we then went back to the school. We got there just in time for the bell to ring, and the doors opened to the masses of excited kids running out. Arnold was one of the last kids to come out of the school, he was talking to his best friend, I think his name was Gerald? He also had his girlfriend on his other side, and I know her name was Helga, as he talked about her a lot. Arnold turned, saw Miles and I, and ran over to us. He hugged us very tightly and said, "I missed you guys so much!"
"We did too, sweetheart." I said with admiration. The beginning of the day was very hard, as I didn't want to be separated again from my son. However, it was so rewarding to see him with friends and learning, that I would be okay from this separation anxiety. "Are you ready to go home?" I asked.
"Yes! Wait, hold on.." Arnold turned around, gave Gerald a handshake, and Helga a kiss on the cheek. Helga was blushing, but then shook her head and scowled. I didn't understand their relationship too much, however, they were cute together. I felt my heart drop again, but I would be damned to let Arnold see me like this. I looked up, and Arnold ran down the stairs, waving goodbye to both Helga and Gerald. He looked up at us with adoring eyes, took our hands, and walked us home.