From the earliest days of married life, you watched from the window as the Gingerbread Man left.
You watched him as he left to walk to class. You watched him as he got in the car to drive to work -- the Honda, then the Subaru, then the Saturn, then the Ford.
After the Ford became scrap metal, he biked to school. Four years of biking year-round in Michigan -- it's no wonder you watched him back then; he might have returned to you as an icicle. When degrees were granted and school was finished, you watched him drive away in the Toyota as he went to claim the other side of the desk at the university. Sometimes, you watched him commute again by bike, though not in winter.
You've watched all these years, catching a last glimpse as your love went away for the day. Coat on, a skip in his step, car door slammed or a bike helmet clipped on. Sometimes he sees you and smiles and waves. Often he doesn't, and you watch unobserved from the window.
When you've watched until the last wheel is out of sight, you turn to your work of the day.
When the gingerbread boys came along, you began watching them as they left. When you walk the youngest gingerbread boy to school, you leave him at the edge of the school yard and watch him as he walks down the school's sidewalk. On the days he takes the bus carrying his enormous trombone, you watch until the bus is a yellow blur through the trees.
Somehow you feel incomplete if you leave before they do, if you leave before you get to watch them as the school bus drives off. Somewhere deep in your mind, it seems as if your mere presence at their departure is enough to ward off any danger they might chance upon during the day.
You know that's silly, but you remain visually tethered to them until they're gone. You know the day will come when the gingerbread boys will leave for a long time, for college, for travel, for a wife. And when they do, you'll be watching out the window until you can't see anymore.