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. 

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