Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New School

Today we visited Abby's new elementary school. Not only is it new for us, it is new for all. Construction is complete and they’re giving tours so all students and their families can view the new digs.

I started to cry this morning when I told my dearest friend that our day would include a tour of the school. I now realize that this is one of those poignant intervals of my life and my response has been reflective, raw and guttural. (Note: I successfully buried all gutturals and purchased school supplies. The tears gave several stellar attempts at a visit but my stoicism prevailed.) (Note 2: Abby is over-the-moon thrilled about starting Kindergarten and wants to know why she can’t start now and why she can't wear her uniform now.)

When the tour started, I reached out to hold Abby's hand. I will be forever grateful that her hand met mine as I desperately NEEDED to hold hers. Her cool, smooth little palm nestled next to mine.

Technically we were shown around the school by a first grade teacher and I guess our legs carried us through. But my official tour guide was my emotion. It showed me Abby's curly blond head, bent in concentration, at a brand new Kindergarten table. It pointed out that my daughter would be using the cute little potties and short sinks in the bathroom all by herself. Then it drafted a picture of Abby, beads of sweat on her brow, hair flying as she ran off the playground. It reminded me that she would be one of the youngest, tiniest students in the entire school.

I held her hand as long as I could, until my brave, independent little girl did just what I’ve always hoped she would. She let go.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mo Tuck

Tonight I spied a flatbed truck idling in our cul-de-sac. An odd occurrence but one that gave me a splendid idea.

I grabbed Henry, my “tuck”-loving boy, and walked out to our driveway. We stood in the twilight, illuminated by the street lamp and serenaded by the diesel chug of our visitor. Henry was mesmerized.

I whispered, “Look Henry, a truck.”

He whispered, “Tuck”.

We sat in our sloped driveway, him in my lap, and the truck driver lowered a fork lift from the back. He picked up loads of sod and drove them away, delivering them to their destination.

The sweet sweet words tumbled out of my Henry's mouth, each time the fork lift departed, “Mo tuck? Mo tuck?”

Henry sat still. Henry is never still.

Each time the fork lift returned, Henry peacefully murmured, “tuck”. All was right in his world.

The sod delivery was complete. The truck driver replaced the fork lift and got back into his truck. He waved to us and we waved goodbye in return.

Henry whispered, “Mo tuck.”

I quietly (and surprisingly sadly) explained that the truck had to leave.

“Mo tuck.”

The truck departed, singing farwell with its diesel chug.

It was my first true “little boy” moment with Henry. I never imagined that watching a truck would be so riveting, contemplative. But I reveled in Henry's pure joy.

Mo tuck indeed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Weather Girl

Yesterday morning, I was in a bit of a huff. Everything, every little thing, bugged me. I don’t know exactly what made me so cranky, but cranky I was. And unfortunately for my children, their age-appropriate actions really threw my crankiness into overdrive.

Abby spent the post-breakfast half hour coloring and asking me how to spell many words. On the 379th word (ok, ok, 42nd word), my intelligent daughter asked,

“Mommy, how do you spell birthday?”
“Mommy, how do you spell birthday?”

"Mommy, how do you spell birthday?"
“Mommy, how do y…



I finally, huffily explained that I couldn’t concentrate on making lunches and spell many words at the same time. I told her that I might put her cow’s milk into her milk-allergic brother’s lunch, give her blueberries (gasp!) instead of applesauce, etc. I fancy myself a proficient multi-tasker. Apparently I am not so proficient or fancy and I successfully smacked that learning fever right out my inquisitive daughter.

Despite the fact that my huff was picking up speed, I was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Beds were made, kids were dressed, camp backpacks and lunches patiently awaited our departure. So I thought I had time to pop onto the computer to send an important email. Silly Mommy. Henry walks in covered in water. Abby walks in with a beaming smile, so proud of the butt-part hairdo she’s given her brother. While she dutifully dampened his curly mop to comb it, he dutifully played in the running water and soaked his camp clothes.


They then hopped on the guest bed, clearly plotting against me to undo the one bed I hadn’t had to make this morning.

So I hit send, slammed the computer closed, remade that already-made bed and headed to the bathroom.

Abby pulls out all my lipsticks and glosses and asks which ones she can wear and why there are some she cannot. Henry bee-lines to my closet and with grand flourish pulls many pairs of my shoes of their shelves and starts handing me every one of my necklaces. This is a typical morning. But my huff is now way past huffdom and I’m now well into pissy.

Somewhere during this bathroom fun Abby brought me a picture she’d colored for me earlier. I quickly put it on the bathroom counter and dashed. I got the kids to camp. (Henry, now a member in the pissy club, screamed when I left him because his regular teacher was on vacation.) I got myself to the gym, cranked up my MP3 player and tried to work out whatever funky-funk had taken residence.

I pondered my moodiness. I had a visit from my self-critic and she pounced,
“BAD MOM! Kids will have awful days because of your bad mood! They don’t think you love them! BAD!” Moodiness quickly moved over to make room for heavy guilt.

I went home, showered and glanced down at the bathroom counter. There sat the drawing Abby had given me earlier. Four dark gray clouds lined the top of the paper. Thick green, blue and yellow hash marks fell from the ominous clouds. My perceptive daughter forecasted my mood perfectly with her Crayolas.

Interestingly, her perspective started to part my storm. I remembered a conversation we had on the way to school:

“Yes, mommy?”
“It’s hard for me when you and your brother take apart things that I’ve just put together, like the beds. I was in a bad mood this morning and I’m shouldn’t have been grouchy with you. I’m sorry and I love you.”
“It’s ok mommy.”

She’s right. It IS ok. Being a good parent isn’t about being a perfect person. A good parent teaches their children how to deal with life’s inevitable, four-dark-gray-clouds-and-multi-colored-rain days. I showed her that bad moods happen to everyone (especially mommy). I hope she remembers not that I was a bitch but that I rectified a situation that I had handled badly.

I hope that she begins to grasp that people, including her, are not perfect. Life isn’t happily-ever-after with blue birds on our shoulders. The perfection myth needs to be busted open (but I shall blog on that another day). It’s a continuing life lesson which I’m clearly still trying to master after 36 years of ardent practice.

My take-away today: some things are meant to be undone. My great undoer undid my funk. And today, Abby's forecast called for purple flowers and rainbow skies. So far, she’s predicting with 100% accuracy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Target Meltdown

We’ve been eagerly preparing for Kindergarten. Uniforms, discussions about the brand new school and typical days. I knew that I might experience some wistful moments leading up to Abby's first day of Kindergarten. But nothing prepared me for the emotional upheaval that the procurement of school supplies caused.

I went on my weekly run to Target, picking up thises and thats. I figured I’d knock out the purchase of Abby's supplies before we left for vacation. I pulled out my list. But I couldn’t read the words on the page. I blinked. “Hmm.” Shook my head. Ok. “Let’s see, Elmer’s Glue.” I looked up at the shelf and all the supplies were a menacing blur. I couldn’t see because of the unexpected tears that threatened to pour down my face.


I looked down at the floor, took two deep, cleansing breaths and tried again. “This is silly”, I told myself. But emotion was now the boss and logic and efficiency mere underlings. I was stuck in place, holding a list of benign school sundries and I could not locate them, look at them or purchase them. My gut was churning. My breath was shallow.

I realized I had to leave immediately before I bawled my way out of Target.

Each threatening tear made its bold statement:
Abby is starting Kindergarten.

Next month, NEXT MONTH!, my baby is going to school five days a week.

She’s going to get out of the car in her little blue jumper and peter-pan collared shirt and walk into a HUGE school. She’s going to spend more waking hours with her teacher than she will with me.

I quickly paid for my non-school related items and was dashing for the exit when I saw a mother and her 18-year-old daughter pushing a cart which carried a big metal trunk. This mother was preparing for her baby’s ultimate departure to college, to another town, to the adult part of her life.

Flood gates officially opened. “Get to the car, get to the car”, I kept muttering to myself.

Abby was not just starting Kindergarten. This was the official beginning of the end, a short skip and a jump to her final departure. In 13 years she would be going to college. Holy shit.

Could I make it to the car?

I called my Mom. I bawled. I gasped. I cried myself hoarse.

How did we get here?