August 31, 2009

Bright's first day of school.

Last night Kayla carefully sat out Bright's outfit and packed his lunch in the Spiderman lunch box that we borrowed from some friends here.

This morning he woke up right on time, 7am. We had been talking about this day for the past few months now, really trying to gear him up for it.

Over breakfast, we spoke, man to man, over some ovaltine.

Though he was a little groggy, I reviewed the details with him.

"You'll get on the bus at 7:30 and they will take you to school. Then you'll need to walk to your classroom. Your teacher's name is Mrs. Alexander." He had requested cheese toast hearts for breakfast. When I make the boys breakfast, which is extremely rare, that is the special and easy dish I make. Take some toast, put cheese on it, cut it into a heart, and when you set it on the table say, "Cheese toast hearts, because I love you."

In no time at all his outfit was on and we were at the door. I think Kayla and I both felt like he had been put on some sort of fast moving roller coaster and was being zipped out of our arms.

We went down the elevator.

Outside, the mini-bus was waiting.

Bright was focused, as if preparing for some great challenge. I was emotional.

Before I knew it, the bus took off winding down the streets of our city. Like any good over concerned parent, I got in the car with all of the other over concerned parents and followed that thing.

We parked a good bit away, so as not to be seen. Bright was crying when he got off the bus. I heard one of the other mom's say, "Your dad's right here." I had told him I wouldn't be, and he calmly responded, "No he isn't." So I walked over and we both took a deep breath.

We walked into the gravel courtyard in front of the school. Traffic was good that morning so we had about 15 minutes to be together. There were so many kids. All running around, laughing, playing. And then there was my little boy in between my legs with a mickey mouse back pack on.

I leaned down and told him about my first day of school. The one I remember is from the second grade. "I went to school back in Van Buren. At King school." I told him. "I remember getting there early and not knowing anyone. I was a little nervous."

By this time I was squatting down and he had leaned back on me. His cheek was on mine as we watched the other kids and I wore the mickey mouse backpack.

"We were all outside for recess and everyone was having so much fun. But I really didn't know anyone. Then I met a little boy my age. Do you remember Asher's daddy?" He did. I said, "Yea, Mr. Tyler. I met him on my first day of school and he and I have been good friends ever since."

You know how you just start talking to your kids to distract them when they're upset? Most of the time, I really don't know where I'm going with it, I just want to help him stay calm. As I realized where this was going, I started to choke up but I knew me being upset would upset him so I cut it off.

"Maybe you'll meet a friend like that today." The bell rang and we started to try and find his class.

Down the hall on the first floor we found his cubby. In it, we put his bag, his lunch, and his shoes. Then Mrs. Alexander welcomed us in. It was awesome. She sat each kid down on a colorful pillow and began to talk about what their time together would look like. Bright suddenly seemed at ease. I told him I would see him at 12:20, and slipped out.

From the hall I saw her pull a large paper owl out of a box. She said, "Ok class, does anyone know what this is?" Bright instantly raised his hand and said, "Mrs. Alexander! That's an owl!" Then the wing fell off. The last thing I heard him say was, "Mrs Alexander! You better pick that wing up and attach it!"

It was so good to see him so happy. Then, I went in the bathroom, wept, regained my composure, and left. On the way home we stopped for milkshakes. He got strawberry, and I got coffee flavor. He explained to me that there were really only two things to do in the playground.

"We played on the bridges and then jumped in the water. But, the water is really just grass." He continued, "There is also a house there. But, the girls shut the door and said, 'No boys allowed!'" He thought that was hilarious.

"Well what did you do?" I asked. "We just pushed them out."

"Who?" I asked. "Me and Sam."

August 29, 2009

The Joy of Accomplishment

The drive to accomplish does not come from the pressure to succeed, but from a desire to stand back and smile.
- Kayla Rupp

I searched the internet for a quote that suited me, but found nothing. So I said it myself. Whether it is standing back to look at the fine meal I have put on the table, or smiling as I close the bedroom door on my tucked-in sons at night, accomplishment builds self-esteem and delivers joy like few other aspects of life can do.

The four days without Daniel are over. He is flying home now and will land on the other side of the city in about an hour. I made it.

No one was here with me to witness the small victories that made up this experience. No one was here to praise me for my creativity, my endurance, or my sheer willpower. But that might well have been the sweetest part of all. I was my own coach, my own cheerleader, and now I am the only one who really knows what I've got in me. I've got more in me than I ever knew, I will tell you that.

I enjoyed a similar private triumph in college when I decided to dust off my old violin, which I had never learned to play outside of high school orchestra, and try my hand across it one last time. This time, I determined, I would make myself proud. It was my senior year, and I was engaged to a man in another state, so I had little to distract me from my goal. I practiced every day, which was new to me entirely. I worked very hard, in a practice room on campus, alone. When the time came for my final performance, I played in a large auditorium that was empty save for my professor and two of her colleagues with their notepads, and my piano accompaniment. I nailed it, right down to the last stroke of my bow. As I faced my audience of three, I smiled and bowed, and walked off the stage with my head higher than it had hardly ever been. It was the perfect way to end a not-so-perfect college experience, and I was truly proud of myself for the first time in quite a long time.

I am currently reading My Life in France, the story of Julia Child. We do not have the luxury over here of seeing new releases in the theater, so I joined the Julie&Julia craze by book alone. It is a great tale of fulfilling one's dreams, and it is inspiring me not to lose sight of my own. I am living my greatest dream now, which has always been to be a mother and run my own household. I am sure no other accomplishment will compare to watching my grown sons stride the earth as honorable men. But I will only be in my late 40s when this job is through. I hope to add to that a career in journalism, a published novel, and perhaps a culinary degree just for fun. In a perfect world, I would also go to beauty school and open a salon in my basement where I would cut hair and detail nails and be a listening ear, but beauty school costs way too much.

I will go now to brush my teeth and change my shirt for Daniel, who should be gracing our threshold soon. Hopefully it will be quite some time before I feel such accomplishment again!

August 26, 2009

Mama said there'd be days like this

Worst day of parenting for me so far. Bar none.

Daniel is out of town for four days. I opted to stay home because it would be better for the kids right before school starts. Better for them, maybe, but CERTAINLY not for me. I knew this, but I had no idea to the degree it would prove true.

The morning began with nursing the baby while the two big boys cried from their beds to get up. When Brave had finished his breakfast, I dashed into the boys' room to get them for their breakfast. As soon as I opened their door, I had to make another dash...this time for the toilet. What is THIS???!!! Dtrain now??!!! Today???!!!

The rest of the morning consisted of me making dashes. Dashing to get the boys a drink and another muffin and then dashing to the bathroom. Dashing to stick the pacifier in Brave's mouth to keep him from crying and then dashing to the bathroom. Dashing to change Zion's poopy diaper before it worsened his rash and then dashing to put the baby down for his nap before he got over-tired and then dashing to the bathroom. Dashing to help Bright learn to wipe his own butt so he's ready for school next week and then dashing back to nurse the baby...then dashing to the bathroom with baby on my boob and nursing him right on the John.

The afternoon was no better. Brave decided to have THE WORST day of his life. He slept zip from late morning until 8 p.m., and needed to be held every minute or he would punish me with a skin-crawling scream. Zion woke up from his nap just howling, and at one point I was holding both babies, one screaming in each of my ears, while I sang, "Is there life out there" at the top of my lungs.

Presently the three of them are quiet in their beds, hopefully for the night. I have three more days of this to go. Wow. Can I make it? I lost my cool once today and growled at Bright when he almost swung his radio into Zion's head. He cried hysterically for nearly and hour, asking for his daddy, and telling me not to ever speak to him like that again. Then I melted down and cried when I was trying to put Zion's pajama pants on and couldn't get his foot through the cuff opening. I just broke down and wept.

And I'll be up at least once in the night to nurse my newborn.

If I can make it through the next three days alive, I will have achieved super-hero status.

August 10, 2009

This last month we...

Returned home from Thailand plus one child,

Welcomed Kayla's parents,

Moved to a new place...

That has a lot more room for our boys to play,

Road the train...

In the rain,

Watched Zion pee pee in the potty for the first time, using our squatty,

Welcomed Daniel's mom,

Made a family trip to the big city,

And saw the sights...

With everyone else,

Took Bright to his junior kindergarten interview,

Saw his new school,

And... watched Brave get fat.