Photo: Nothing screams New England quite like a stone fence. Nothing screams “first day of school” quite like anxious smiles. These are the moments that I live for.
The first day of school was everything I needed it to be. I got little boys up early, they were excited and ready to go, they ate their breakfast, they did their routine… it was a little bit magical. We got out the house 15 minutes early so I could take a few pictures and send them off to the various waiting relatives in southern places. They were anxious the way that kids are when they are excited, but when we pulled up and they saw their friends and teachers… it was like they never left. They fell right in. We took some pictures and then I was out. 🙂 No drama, no tears, no separation blues. They barely gave me a second glance and you know what? I’m alright with that.
Of course, there were errands to be run, but I did end up at Starbucks for my first Pumpkin-spiced Latte of the season (on ice because it was hot as a what-what yesterday!) and then spent a wonderful amount of time at this desk, chatting with my writing group, working on plot lines for Meadowlark II. I even got to meditate for 10 minutes before I headed out to get them again. Teachers reported no fighting, no whining… even during transitions! Woo hoo!
I didn’t get a lot of time to be social with other moms. There will be time for that as we go along. I said my hellos and gave my smiles, listened politely as folk shared their summer stories. I was reminded almost immediately about one part of this suburban parenting thing that I don’t really like. I’ll demonstrate with quotes:
“Well, we spent a lot of time in Maine because my parents have a house up there. Was able to spend most weekends up there and get a break, you know?”
“Well, we started with [camp A] and then we did summer lessons at [music camp B] and then, of course, there were swim lessons at [the local pool place].”
“I drove the kids down to my parent’s every other week and they swam down there and took lessons, then we did a lot of swimming at the beach, and of course there were lessons [at the local joint] and then my neighbors have a pool so we just went in there every day. The kids are diving off the board and everything!”
I don’t begrudge these women and these families. I know that I used to, but it’s more complex now. I’ve come to a full understanding of it: some of this is about straight-up money and assets, and then other parts of this is about family resources. Folk around here can dip into so many wells and children benefit from it on a level I simply cannot compete with. I immediately think about my boys and I panic: they are so behind! They can’t do that! How am I ever going to get them to that level? I know that they could do that if I could only…
but then I got in my car, took a deep breath and reminded myself about the context of it all. When the resources are unlimited because there are multiple wells to dip from (not just money, but places, memberships and time, right? Babysitting, exposure, invitations, hanging in the right circles, etc…), kids get more exposure, more opportunities, and they get on this accelerated track toward whatever elite level they are destined for. I always knew this on an academic level, but to see it in action is just… powerful. It really is. It’s powerful and jarring, and I can’t help but feel a bit helpless sometimes. Not because I covet what they have, but because I covet what they are able to do. And because I feel like The Husband and I have done the dance, walked the path to get in… but what we’ve really done is just gotten to the outskirts. We’ll always be outside of it all… always a step behind…
Then I remind myself that the boys has a great summer. A different sort of summer than their friends, but certainly a great one where they grew and learned and were exposed to a lot of things. They played plenty. They swam plenty. They fought plenty. We explored and we traveled, we experimented and we contemplated. We certainly had a better summer than we did last year. We totally came out of it feeling ready to go back and tackle even more. I’m grateful for what I was able to accomplish with them. We’re lucky and blessed. I also remind myself that they will get to do all of that stuff and learn all of those things as their own pace… at the pace that is best for them.
I know that, ultimately, the boys will be fine. It’s a long game. Parenting is a long game. We’re just at the beginning and we’re doing just fine.
Easy to write. Harder to fully accept as truth way down deep where it counts. 🙂
It is a cool, cloudy and wet Friday here in Massachusetts, Dear Reader. It’s going to be a great weekend to run around this house and sweep away the last of the sand and the dirt, clean out my oven and even fold some clothes and put them away. Church starts up again on Sunday and we’re looking forward to going as a family. This is the time for quiet contemplation and snuggling up to the people and values that matter. I wish you some time, on one of these cool upcoming nights, to cozy up to warmth and a good story: one that you tell or one that is artfully told by a loved one. I wish you a good hearty breakfast, savory rather than sweet, that fills up your house with good smells that linger for the rest of the day. I wish you a good, strong cup of coffee, and a little time to read the paper as you sip (yes, a real paper… even if it’s on an electronic device. And don’t read about politics either… read about the world). I wish you a kiss and a giggle, hug that lasts longer than expected, a sigh of satisfaction, and words that lift you up and carry you for the rest of the day. Let them remind you of how loved you are, how loving you are, and how powerful both of those things are: you get what you give, Dear Reader, and I’ll bet that you give a lot. So allow the world to thank you, in big and small ways, because you are worthy of all of it.
Until Friday, Dear Reader, take care.