Yeah, carpool. It’s often unpredictable, especially at the beginning of the school year. Plus, it seems to bring out all kinds of stress, frustration and even unkindness in even the most mild-mannered of parents! Our first day of school last week had the typical carpool chaos at Baby Girl’s new school, and even though you know it’s going to be crazy, as a parent, I seem to always underestimate the time needed for those first few days. So, we were late. On the first day. And, Baby Girl got out of the car in tears, which made for a rough first day of school for me as well. Since that day, we’ve been leaving earlier and I’ve been trying my best to keep my attitude light as we navigate the crazy school traffic.
This morning, I couldn’t help but smile as we turned onto School Street for the last crucial lap of Wednesday morning carpool. Baby Girl was practically bouncing, and said, “I wish I was in there right now! I can’t wait to get in there and get started!” School, she meant! [Bravo, Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary staff!] I assured her that we were in “the loop” now and she would be inside in no time. Her response… “It’s really a Rainbow Loop!”
She proceeded to discuss the idiosyncrasies of various circular shapes that resembled the traffic flow on the HWS campus until we made it to her jumping out stop, and determined that “rainbow” was, indeed, the best description of the carpool line.
I love a girl who can see a rainbow in even the most harried of situations. It made me think that maybe seeing rainbows has less to do with light and water, and more to do with joyful hearts and happy attitudes. Thanks for the reminder, Baby Girl. I hope you always see rainbows!
It always seems to happen at bedtime. It doesn’t matter whether we’re staying up late or going to bed early, at bedtime, the giggles ensue. And it’s not just a small chuckle. It’s a full-blown, every single thing in the world is funny, giggle-fest. From all three of my little ones. Just as I’m ready for some down time and trying to get everyone settled down. And so, I pull out my “I know it’s summer time, but mommy still has to get some work done tomorrow,” lecture. Followed by a short soliloquy on how “when you guys are sleeping late tomorrow, Mommy will be getting up to do my client projects, so we need to quiet down!” Even I am thinking “blah, blah, blah.”
This morning, as I was thinking about how this scene unfolded last night, it occurred to me… “what am I doing?” Not fifteen minutes before, I had been begging them not to argue with each other. And then, the sounds of uncontrolled giggles coming from my bedroom, each one joined in, and not a cross word in earshot. (until I decided to join the conversation) Maybe it’s time for me to reevaluate this giggle thing. Maybe it’s time to embrace the giggling. To celebrate that unexpected explosion of joy. And to remind Baby Girl and her brothers that the sound of those giggles isn’t an annoyance. It is the precious and priceless sound of joy and love and togetherness. One I hope I can always hear clearly.
I’m closing in on 50 letters! My goal is to get to 100. You can view the whole series here.
Today’s the big day. My Bug’s state test in writing… two five paragraph essays back to back, 45 minutes each. He’s cried himself to sleep quite a few times with worry about not finishing. He’s had tummy aches, afraid he’ll “fail.” Because he cares and because he doesn’t do anything — ANYTHING — halfway. His school counselor has given all the high achiever test anxiety coping mechanisms. His teacher has given all the practice tests and the time prompts and the encouragement. So, today’s the day. And when I’m not wanting to punch some Legislator or Department of Education appointee in the nose, I just want to say, “YOU GOT THIS.” Because he’s having trouble remembering that.
It’s getting harder to concentrate on school for my little ones. We’re about a month away from the end of the year, and it just gets harder. Plus, this is the time of year when they are testing… state tests, reading tests, writing tests, in addition to the regular weekly tests. It sometimes seems like they are in a constant state of evaluation, and that causes a little stress in their hearts. Part of the kids’ tests this year involve writing assignments. I’m amazed at some of the the things they are learning — writing skills I didn’t learn until I was much older.
In their classes, the kids are learning about “personal narratives,” and ways to express an idea or an opinion with a story. In essence, they’re learning to express themselves. To tell their stories. They’re gaining tools to do that quickly and with the appropriate language and punctuation. And, I’ve had the opportunity to read some of the results. Their stories. Their ways of seeing the world and describing it. Their take on things that happen to us. And the things they feel are important. I hope they learn to tell all their stories.
I wonder if they need to hear this. I’m certain they do. And I often grieve that I’m the one they hear it from. In these words… “would be.” I stay awake at nights sometimes wondering if they have this sense of void. The unfilled space in their hearts where a Daddy would fill. I wonder how much they remember. And if in their memories, they hear the words. I wonder if my saying them is a poor substitute. Or if it can somehow reach in and touch the gap.
My oldest earned his Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts last night. It’s a two-year process that he’s enjoyed, and worked for. And one that has taken me out of my comfort zone. When he said he wanted to join Cub Scouts, I felt this huge wave of anxiety. I didn’t know how to do that. But, with the help of great leaders, we did it together. I think about those experiences, and know his father would have enjoyed them. And, I wanted him to hear it… “I’m proud of you, son.” I wanted him to hear it in his heart and carry it with him for always. Stored up for those times when he needs to know. When he needs to know the joy he brought to his dad, and the joy he brings to me. Just by breathing.
Well, it was a perfect April Fool’s Day experience. Only, I fooled myself! This morning was another example of why my children sometimes look at me, shake their heads, and say, “you’re crazy.” My 3rd grade, Bug, has been gearing up for the regional science fair after he won first place in his category at school. We made some additions to his board this week, and arrived at Humphrey Coliseum at 7:30 this morning with board, scientific notebook, and sundry time-killing books in tow. To find that the regional science fair is actually next Thursday. Yep. I overshot it by six days. Bug sunk into disappointment that today would actually be a regular school day instead of a fun science fair and date with Mommy day. Except not a really regular day since he would have to get a tardy slip, after all. Not the end of the world. I hope. And to my attempts at cheering him up with “now, you’ll have book club to look forward to,” and “at least we were early for science fair and not late!” — making lemonade, and all — he promptly replied: “yeah, like we’ve ever been early for anything.” My 9yo. Spot on again.
So, today’s letter is to my son, Bug. With all the appropriate humility, regret, and a bit of giggling thrown in.
I finally painted an alternate heading for this series for those days (like today) when my words are to both my sons and daughter. It’s holy week, and we’re beginning to read about Easter and think about the meaning of it. This Bible verse is the last page of an Easter picture book we read each year. To me, it summarizes the purpose of God’s word and a good reminder of the “why” that must exist behind so much of what we do as people of faith. As I’m trying to help my children ingrain some of those words and beliefs in their hearts, I want them to know that living out their own truths begins and ends with this one sacred truth.
Today’s letter is a big brother edition. My third grader is starting the process of preparing for end-of-year required tests, and it’s producing a lot of worry — a fear he won’t do well. Every now and then this happens, and I try to remind him that there’s never been a challenge he hasn’t met when he’s put his mind to it. “You can do this!” Don’t we all need to hear this sometimes? For all those challenges, big and small. From video game levels to classroom tests to gamete skills. When the worries creep in, I want them to hear this. And, until they have the confidence and experience to say it to themselves, I want them to hear it from me.
My heart on a sick day… when Baby Girl still wants me to take care of her. And I realize how much I love these days in spite of the medicines. It’s in these days I’m so thankful. I’m acutely aware of how blessed we are. And I remember that everything I do, all my design and work endeavors, every opportunity… it’s all weighed against this. And my ability to be right here. Where she needs me.