Photo: Our last Mommy and Me field trip was to the Museum of Fine Arts yesterday. Thanks to a pass from my local library, it only cost me $10 to get in (instead of $25!!!). Of course, it cost me $22 to park, so… anyway… When asked to tell Major about this visit, Minor reported: “Mommy took me to the art museum. Mommy made me look at scary things! But, they weren’t all scary. But, they were pretty scary. There were lots of scary things.” I am not having the best mommying week. Anyway, this is Minor in front of an Ai WeiWei piece. He wanted to spin the wheels. He was very disappointed and confused when I told him he couldn’t.
My little Ursa Minor spent half of his new preschool orientation in my lap, quietly playing with a wooden police car.
He’d walked into the familiar room like he owned it, greeting his new teachers and quickly finding the toy he wanted to play with. It wasn’t long before the other kids joined him. Some were longtime students of the school, others were new like him. Moms and a few dads were in the mix as well, politely chatting, introducing themselves eagerly.
It didn’t take long before Minor became quiet and small, wanting to be near, not really wanting to speak when prompted. Other parents were so happy to meet him and say hello. The kids, too. Since there are many boys in his class, there were plenty of rescue vehicles brought out for play.
It quickly became obvious why Minor wasn’t feeling the vibe:
“I miss [Ursa Major]. [Ursa Major] isn’t here.”
The new teacher pulled him in, helping him paint a picture as a gift for his big brother. They made a pact that tomorrow there would be some fire station building with big wooden blocks. When we left, he was holding my hand with a big grin, totally happy, totally fine.
We got in the car and started driving toward our next errand, and then came the question I wasn’t expecting:
“But when is my first day at [former preschool]?”
Awww, shit. Shit, shit, shit!
“Well, we aren’t going back to that school this year. This year, you get to go to [new preschool]! It’s going to be great! You get to start tomorrow! New start! New friends!”
“No! I don’t want to go to that school! I hate my new school!”
Whooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaa, bro. Whoa. Whooooaaa whoa whoa.
“You’re gonna make new friends, and have new adventures! Everybody got a new school this year! I mean, you don’t hate it, you just had over an hour of fun!”
No help. If he could have said “bullshit,” he would have.
“But there will be chances to learn new things! Remember the weather map at school? Remember how you read the words?”
No change. He might as well have said, “get outta here!”
“Well….you get to build a firehouse tomorrow. You love firehouses! You set out the blocks you need and everything!”
“….I….do like building….”
“I know! You’re so fantastic at building!”
He was only temporarily placated. Ultimately, I had to distract him by prematurely giving him the snack I’d packed in his new Ninja Turtles lunchbox. He crunched and munched on animal crackers, sucked down a caprisun entirely too quickly, and burped half-heartedly. I could see his sulking in my bus driver concave minivan mirror, specially designed for perfect viewing of crestfallen kiddos in the middle row. This is my life now.
I felt like an ass. Total asshole mother of the year. Of course he was going to have a moment of dread. Of course he was going to ask about his old school. Of course dealing with being separated from his brother and having to start at a whole new school with unfamiliar kids was a lot to ask of him! Had I not been clear enough? I thought I had! Obviously not!
Honestly, I have no idea how it’s going to all go tomorrow. While I suspect he’s going to have a fine first day of school, I can’t help but hold just a little bit of doubt. As much as I’m yearning for his getting out the car and starting a new school year, I can’t help but wonder if I was selfish by moving him, that this is just one step beyond what is ok for him.
But, “we all have to do new things. We have to push and challenge ourselves. Mommy has to learn new things and make new friends at this school, too!”
He… was not moved by this. Mommy struggles are not Minor struggles. Mommy struggles don’t matter.
It’s the 4th day of school and I’m not really enjoying myself, Dear Reader. The transition has been funky and exhausting, disruptive in ways that I hadn’t anticipated, and I’m not sure we’re all the better for it. I keep reminding myself that it’s only the second week. It’s going to take time to get it all settled in. We’ve got to metabolize the change. But, Dear Reader…as I wrote a few weeks ago, I’m sitting here still wondering: what if I hate this? What if this doesn’t work out? What if I very stupidly put all of my eggs into this basket and we’re all about to be sorely disappointed.
As such, I’m going to set down this computer and let things go. The night is for stillness. I’m ready to be still.
So I will see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.