Sunday, September 29, 2013

new world, big kids

So I guess I need to address the very obvious fact that I've been away awhile. Looked like I jumped ship, didn't it? Not entirely true, because I've been writing half posts and never completing them, thinking about writing posts that I don't even begin. And then there's that other blog still percolating. I'm inclined to believe that intention should count for something, somewhere.

And then in that last post I didn't even acknowledge the oh-so-long break in posts. That's because I got moving with the writing and didn't want to stop for explanations.

Let's just pretend that you're already caught up, shall we? I hate coming back after a break because I feel I have to address the absence in a post that isn't really a post but some space filler of explanation that essentially always means the same thing: blah blah blah. Life takes a winding course and except for tragedy it's all mostly the same. I'll let you know if there are any tragedies.

I've moved into a new parenting time slot, did you know? Since I last hung out with you there have been major developmental changes. I heard this truth most loudly at an event for folks with babies and very young children recently. I happened to be there without kids so my attention was not diverted by my perpetual role as referee (oh the bickering drives me craaaazzzyyy). I looked around at the strollers and diaper bags and parents chasing escapee toddlers, and I thought "I don't live in this world anymore." It was a funny realization, especially since it should have been obvious. Those days were so tiring, a hundred hours each, and ran on one after the other without pause. Although intellectually I knew it wouldn't last forever, I never believed it. Suddenly I felt naked without my stroller: a kind of shield, a buttress, and let's face it - so helpful with the schlepping of stuff.

Things changed and I didn't even notice when it happened. I've moved from babiesandpreschoolers to schoolagedkids. The most obvious illustration of this new world is school, but the most important difference is developmental. It has to do with a mental progression, an ability to understand explanations, to not completely lose one's shit when asked to clean up the legos, to control reactions when frustrated hungry tired overwrought. Mostly.

The immediate down side is that the first of school also (evidently) means a soup of germs, which felled us straight away. Looking back on this blog, I want to acknowledge that I have spent a good amount of time enumerating our illnesses, which are many. I've spent a lot of time complaining about being ill, about fevers and stomach flus and many tv filled sick days in preschool. More weight in illness than a blog should carry. So none of that now except to say that because I've done nothing but lie on the couch or take care of sick kids for over 2 weeks now, my house is a DISASTER. Which makes me Crazy Lady. Just so you know the temperature of our spaceship.

So. Kindergarten and First Grade. A brave new world. I no longer have a child in the Waldorf school, which is sad, but it's also kind of exciting for the next thing, for us to be here.

And where is here? It is with a girl turning seven this minute, a girl who is sometimes overcome with so much love that she just has to say it, "I love you so much, Mama."It is here with a boy who is right on the very tip edge of losing the last of his babyness, and he's scared to see it go, scared not to be a baby and feel coddled, scared to have to learn and accomplish things.

It is here. Here where we all put on our shoes and our jackets at 8 am, leash the dog and trek to school 3 blocks away, watching for the trolls under the bridge. Here where Clark often pulls away from my kisses, where Frances is apart from me all day in a climate I know very very little about. It's odd to have her gone away from me so much, to feel so out of touch with her social life. I have to just trust that she will make good decisions, that she will choose the way that is warmed by the light. I know that often when I ask about their days they will not tell me, and I have to be open and present, so that when they do want to talk I am listening. I don't want to miss it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

the whale bus

I put both my kids on buses today. Separate buses, though they are going to the same school, because one kid is full day (her first full day experience!) and leaves at 8 am (FIRST GRADE!!) and the other has half day kindergarten (KINDERGARTEN!) in the afternoon so doesn't get on the bus til lunch.

While Clark and I waited in the front yard for his kindergarten bus, I took a good look at him. Sometimes when the light is right I can see the toddler I hold in my mind, the toddler that was him before he became. Sometimes, like today, I then look even harder and try to see the man he will become, or even the adolescent, but I can't, because that person doesn't exist yet. When I see pictures of his dimpled toddler self, I recognize the person he is now in that seed, but it's impossible to see it going forward. Right now he is only five. He is Potential for a full sized human, but he is not Blueprint. His five year old self does not guarantee any kind of future. Anything can happen between now and then that will shape who he will become, things that I do and decisions that I make as a parent, and things wholly out of my control, curves the world will throw at him that none of us will see coming.

Parenting, it often seems to me, is a large portion helping and carrying and cooking and arguing and explaining and cajoling (which is different from what it used to be, which was more physical labor - holding, carrying, lifting, rocking, wiping, schlepping.), but the most important part is the releasing. Which is what I watched myself do today. As they each climbed those huge steps onto the bus, one at 8am and the other at noon, I felt they were being swallowed by a whale who was then going to turn in the water and swim away. Right? That's pretty much it. I had to just stand and watch, wave goodbye.

My husband asked me recently what I do when I get in really cold water. You can seize up, clinch your fists, tense all your muscles to try to block the cold from getting into the deeper parts, or you can relax into it. Force your muscles to go soft, your breath to release. It's not hard to do - the releasing - but it's hard to want to do.

I told Clark this morning that it was amazing that this big boy in front of me (KINDERGARTEN!!) is the same little tiny baby I held 5 years ago. I told him that five years doesn't seem like a long time to grown ups although it seems like forever to him. (for good reason: it is forever to him. It's all he's experienced of ever.) The only constant is change, right?

And now I get to leave this blog post to walk to pick them up. We are fortunate to live in the same neighborhood as the elementary school, and I love walking to get them in the afternoon. Last year Clark walked with me to pick up Frances, and now I am going to get them both. I'm excited for them to start this new adventure, to hear how the world comes to them, what they've learned about life since being carried away from me this morning. It's a big ocean.