Saturday, September 15, 2012

big changes afoot

Everyone loves school! We are a success! What a relief!

I haven't written since Karen the german girl arrived. She's here not to go to school, but on her break between semesters. It's a kind of language emersion for her, an extra family member for us.

When she first arrived I was in heaven and meant to write a post saying only that, but I never sat at the computer. She does the dishes! All the time! I fix food for the kids, turn around, and the dishes are already done! It's like magic.

The second week I had a hard time adjusting to having someone else around all the time. I kept thinking I needed to entertain her, thought of her as a guest. It was funny - we are putting her up and feeding her but since I'm not paying her for babysitting I kept feeling I couldn't ask for her to watch the kids while I went out. And she felt like we were going so out of our way to provide for her that she owed us as much help as she could be. So for a while both of us were working our asses off, neither of us taking a break.

Not long after she got here we loaded everyone up and traveled to Washington DC and that was nice, and back home Karen came along with me on some adventures with the kids, and that was wonderful. Now that school's started we've gotten into a rhythm and I'm really feeling it. It seems like she's been here forever and I honestly don't know how the adjustment is going to go for me once she is gone. I'm rather in love with her company and she's an ENORMOUS help around the house and with the kids and oh my goodness what am I going to do when I'm alone again??

Here's what's the what on school:

Both Frances and Clark are at schools new to them, whole new worlds. Clark had tough transition, missing his old school and friends, and my heart felt for him. He loved his old school, knew the rules and the expectations and the people, and he loved those people. At the new school (the Waldorf school Frances went to the last 2 years) he felt so shy. Shyness is painful, and who wouldn't want to end that feeling by running back to that other thing you already love and feel close to? Why take a risk? Thing is, he didn't even realize it was a risk, didn't realize there was possible gain on the other side. He just did it cuz mom made him. Still, I knew he was going to fall in love with it. The first day when I picked him up his shoes were completely and totally covered in mud and sand. They had been buried. I had to take off his shoes and socks and rain pants and let him walk barefoot to the car. (It's amazing how those rain pants keep everything dry underneath. Clark was amazed too. His feet were soaked through but his shorts were completely dry. "Look at that!" he said.) The Waldorf school is a place where that kind of activity is expected and even encouraged - sometimes when it's raining only lightly out they go to this hill nearby that's more dirt than anything else, and they take turns sliding down on their butt. In the mud. He's going to be in heaven. I love Waldorf because it is this joyous celebration of the earth and the natural world, a kind of love affair. You can't help but respond.

Mitch told me on the way to school yesterday Clark said he loves his school. When I asked him about it Clark said, "yes, I LOVE my school." "What do you like about it?" I asked. "The whole thing," he said. There's so much motor skill activity - grinding grain on the mill, churning butter, chopping veggies, sweeping, balancing on logs and climbing swinging ladders - all stuff that will please him at a deep physical level.

Frances is thrilled to pieces with kindergarten. She wasn't nervous to go, didn't seem apprehensive at all, and loves everything about it. The first day I walked her to school and I hope I remember that moment always. She was so happy and excited and the weather had been perfect but a storm was coming so it was cooling off. We stopped at the corner and chatted with our neighbors in their pool, then went on. After dropping her I walked home while the gray clouds gathered. It wasn't until I was on the sidewalk right in front of our house that I felt the first drop. And then the downpour. It was all very symbolic and lovely.

The interesting part is that Clark is in school in the morning (Tuesday - Friday) and Frances is in school in the afternoon. (I wrote about this here.) So far I'm in love with the setup. Of course, Karen is still here, which means I can leave Frances with her in the mornings while I take Clark to school or go to the gym or the grocery. When I'm on my own again the lack of a break may be trying, but I'm trying to enjoy the moment. Having the kids each alone is SO DIFFERENT. They are civilized people! And when Frances gets home from school at 3 they are so happy to see each other and they play so well together, since they've been apart all day.

My challenge now is to enjoy them each and not spend all our time running errands or doing dishes or laundry. Which means this school year I may not get much done. I'm trying to be okay with that. Trying to spend my time sitting on the floor playing old maid and doing puzzles. Frances will be in school full day next year, then Clark the year after that. It's all coming to a close, this time of our lives. It sounds so dramatic when I say it like that, but it's true. That full time baby-toddler-preschooler segment of my life is nearing an end.

When Clark said he loves his new school he also said he still misses the old one. I told him it's that way with a lot of things in life. Including this one for me. I'm excited to move on to the next stage - with activities and no naps and the ability of children to become hungry without turning into screaming maniacs. We can travel! And go out to dinner! And talk about issues! Frances is already there, and Clark is mostly close, and I can see the bright lights glimmer. Still, I'm aware I'm going to miss this. This time when I am their world, when they rely on me for so much, and when they give so much love. It's a sweet time, something I've looked forward to my whole life. That it is ending is why the baby urge strikes now, I believe. Still, the shine of what is to come lures me more. I don't want to stay here in baby land. (I mostly don't. Except when sometimes I do.) In any case, I'm still here now, and I plan to cherish it while it's happening.

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