Friday, September 16, 2011

Dirty dozen

Today marked the twelfth full day of kindergarten, and I find that hard to accept. It has only been twelve days? Even as the daughter of a mathematician, I fail to understand how that many boxes on a calendar adds up to this much distance of time and space. Those verticals separating the boxes, delineating them, marching upright step by step by step in rhythm – they’re meaningless. They’re so incomprehensible that they could be a foreign language. Maybe they are, since my mind has always lived far further in the side of feelings and colors than of logic or metronomic pipestems. And that side, the colors side, time is stretchy over there like rubber bands. They’ve pulled taut, these past “twelve days,” a measurement I can’t accept as true. I feel the distance they’ve gone, and it’s bruised-purple and gray underbelly and golden at the cornea, like a magnificent sunset in the distance of a thunderstormy day.

(Do your feelings have colors?)

Today was a milestone day, not because it was the twelfth day of kindergarten but because it was the first day that my sweet E walked into school without crying. She’s a big-feelinged girl herself, and this hasn’t been an easy “twelve days” – I bet she’d react dubiously to that measurement, too. She smiled shyly at her teacher, who held out her hand, and E clasped it and climbed down from my car. Together they walked inside, still holding hands, and though I would never dare point it out to her, E was smiling.

Do not say to me ‘it only took twelve days.’ Do not say it, or do not expect me to forgive you in any reasonable linear measurement.

She’s doing so well, though, which is no surprise to us but still comes as great relief. Her teachers say such positive things about her engagement and participation and citizenship, and she’s making some sweet new friends, and her stories at the end of each day demonstrate a fascination with all the new opportunities around her.

Mama! Mama, we watched a film in science class about underwater divers who study the bottom of the lakes! And did you know there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate? And watch me do windmills and pushups! Because we’re doing those in P.E. and I love it!

We always knew she’d do well here just as soon as she allowed herself to do well here. But fruition is a breathtaking thing, because now we’re here and this is actual and I’ve spent so many blue-purple breaths and velvet-gray thoughts on staying positive in front of her, visibly believing in her, playing the world’s most unwavering cheerleader, and we’ve now hit steady sailing.**

I haven’t spent one breath on me, and now we need to talk about me.

It needs to be said: we are so proud of her, and this is exactly what we want for her. Even if it weren’t a joint decision, this is exactly what I want for her. Now let’s set that aside.

I miss her so much I could melt. She’s never been apart from me, even though I worked, even though she had preschool; we were in the same building and we spent our morning drive together and our evening drive together and I saw her, each of them, in increments by chance or planning throughout every day. We were never apart and even on my craziest work days, I knew we were still under one roof. And now she’s left for the wilds of kindergarten and I’ve never done this before, I’ve never sent one of my babies away from me, and I. do. not. like it.

Her younger siblings, being still not yet kindergartners, are still contractually required to nap tomorrow afternoon when we’re all home. During that time, E and I have made a plan: we will make a stack of books. And we will snuggle on the couch. And we will rest and we will talk and we will read and we will hug each other and whisper stories and ankle-entangle and we will not get up. And I’m hoping we can make it a new Saturday tradition. Because the world is very different now, these “twelve days” later, and we need to create some new reassurances.

**I know that not crying on a Friday probably doesn’t promise a no-tears Monday, but we’re past the worst of it. She still has scared feelings about the enormity of the place and the routines she hasn’t yet mastered (they’re on a six day schedule so she’s only done many things twice so far); but her enthusiasm is incontrovertible. Pin It