last day of grade four, last day of grade one
Yup, it’s here. This morning the kids departed for their last day of school, grades five, four, and one.
So the boy ran off without saying goodbye. He is not keen on my plan to walk up to meet them after school either. Ah, the many stages of motherhood.
The youngest girl posed for my camera while waiting for her extremely slow and distracted elder sister. Then both girls posed. At which point, they were so late to meet their friends, with whom they walk every morning, that their friends came to meet them!
Leaping and running down the sidewalk to greet each other.
Walking off to school. Filled with that “last day” thrill. I almost remember it. No, that’s not true. I remember it perfectly; but I’ve yet to find a parallel in my adult life. (I’m not envious, just nostalgic, a wee bit.)
the face of an Easter egg hunter, worried she’s missing something that somebody else might have found first
This week is ever so slightly refusing to start afresh.
I find long weekends disruptive, being the one at home handling the children (or even sharing the handling). It’s out of my routine. And I’m a routine-centred person. Yesterday the kids were home; Kevin was not. But work went on. At least, I attempted to work. I sent emails. I did an interview. I was absolutely buried in mountains of laundry. I baked bread. I let the kids run wild. I let them play wii for way too long. There were playdates. I was just scarcely paying enough attention. Everything turned out fine.
But, oh, I was so looking forward to today.
And then, just as the kids were putting on coats and boots and packing school bags this morning, literally minutes before my week was due to begin afresh, the child pictured above announced that she couldn’t go. Her tummy hurt. An ache? Nausea? Pain? What exactly? Was it truly school-missing-worthy? She insisted. Finally, I accepted. After all, I didn’t want to send a sick child to school. So here she is at home, with me, in my office right now, wandering the small space, alternately curling in the chair, making the stool squeak as she tries to twirl it, and asking whether she might, just maybe, watch a movie??
Um, no. No rewards offered for missing school. No incentives to repeat this act tomorrow. Is she sick? I’m not sure. If so, she’s not very sick. For which I am appreciative. Tomorrow is another day. I hope to heck we can start the week afresh then. Mama needs some alone-time.
more Easter egg hunters, concerned they might be missing out
(These photos crack me up. Instead of capturing delighted little faces, my camera seemed to have grabbed expressions of vague anxiety and concern: Someone else might be finding something that I want! There were comparisons of basket contents, and much discussion (okay, argument) over how many eggs everyone should be allowed to find. And, in CJ’s case, there was a sort of puzzlement, like: Is this egg all there is? Really? This is what I’ve been looking for?)
but he looks pretty cute here
my view, bedtime
I’ve been reading A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh to the kids before bed. Lights have to be out by 8:30 in the little kids’ room, so some nights that means we don’t get much read. When the big kids were little, we read through the classics before bedtime: the Little House on the Prairie series, Charlotte’s Web, Roald Dahl, some Narnia Chronicles, the entire Harry Potter series (Kev read those to the kids), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and more I may be forgetting. The little kids are now getting old enough to hear these stories too, but our schedules are so different just a few years on. Evenings have shrunk to make time for extracurricular activities. Sometimes bedtime rituals amount to little more than toothbrushing and tucking in. Lights out.
So when I picked up Winnie the Pooh a few weeks ago, it seemed like the bare minimum. The bar was set pretty low. What I’ve seen is how all the kids crave this time. Crave being read to. It started with the two littlest. The older ones were just passing by in the hallway when they heard laughter: “What’s going on in here?” Room was made in the bunks for them too.
When I looked up from the page last night I saw the most beautiful picture. The photos do not do the scene justice. CJ likes to lie facing me, hands holding chin. Albus brought homework, listening in with one ear. AppleApple was giddy with laughter. Fooey was half-asleep, content and warm under the blankets.
“What time does the clock say?” I ask the kids, and one of them will usually tell me honestly. At 8:30 the last paragraph gets read, the page turned down, the book set aside. Lights out. When we’re done with Pooh, I will pick out another book, for sure.
Aside: Albus is bored with the books he’s been reading and re-reading, and I want to tweak his interest again. Any suggestions? He’s ten and a half and capable of reading quite complex chapter books.
Today I spent an hour at physio, working on strengthening exercises. I also ran on a treadmill for 8 minutes and oh my goodness how I wished it were longer. But I’m supposed to continue doing what I’ve been doing — slow, short runs — for another week.
Today I did not get up early for a swim. I read for an extra hour last night, and slept for an extra two hours this morning (7am versus 5am; makes a big difference). While I regretted not starting the day with momentum, I need to get work done, and with physio knew I’d be hard-pressed to squeeze in a nap too. Brain must function.
Yesterday, I read this post from the Afterword on the fraught business of publicizing one’s book, by fellow Anansi author Robert Hough (and now I must read his new book!). Today I am working on posts for the same venue, to run next month. Topics are wide open, which is rather daunting.
Also, today, I am thinking about the time I have to write. The actual literal time that is available to me. Next year CJ starts kindergarten. But it won’t change my life very much. Except for Tuesday afternoons when the two of us are home together, he is either in nursery school (mornings) or with a caregiver (afternoons until 3pm). My work day ends at 3pm. That will change very little when school starts, or going forward for years to come. The school day is really very short. Several afternoons a week, I pick the kids up for after-school activities that require me to organize and ferry them around (swim lessons; piano lessons). On the other afternoons, perhaps I could shut my office door, lay out snacks, and let the kids fend for themselves until 5pm, in order to gain a full working day, but … would that work? Here’s the thing: by 3pm I’m revved up and working well creatively. It’s painful to shut it down at that moment, day after day. Starting earlier is not an option, not if I want to work out before dawn and see the kids off to school.
How do people work full-time? How? I want to know. I want to be able to do it too. I’m sensing there are no easy answers, just more compromises. So I will count my blessings and be grateful for the time I’ve carved out. (This is worthy of a larger post. When I finish the biography of Mordecai Richler, which I continue to read as if mining for hints and clues to writerly success, I will get to that larger post.)
… the kids made decorations for the front window. We didn’t have time to get to it until after 8 o’clock last night, but with everyone working together helpfully, I didn’t want to crush the creativity for bedtime purposes. CJ made a snowman that we hung on the wall rather than the window–he found sticky-tack on the back of a fish he’d made at nursery school and hung it himself. Fooey made a snowflake and a Santa. AppleApple made red and green holly to frame the corners, and Albus made blue snowflakes and a line of people holding hands.
On the eighth day of Christmas (ie. today), I’ve promised to make caramel popcorn balls. Maybe we’ll use the recipe in our Little House on the Prairie Christmas recipes book. It would be appropriate because AppleApple is attending a Victorian classroom today–a field trip for her enrichment program. Here she is all dressed up and braided.
Yesterday was the kind of day that defines relentless. I received the final questions on the proofs for Juliet while sitting in an xray office with Fooey and CJ, having just dropped AppleApple at piano lessons, and while waiting for Albus to call my cell so I would know he was safely home. I was thinking today how strange it is that you can’t always have your kids with you. Hm. That doesn’t sound very profound. I was thinking of how strange it still feels to let them go and be independent, to know that they are capable of being out there in the world, without me. Same for my book–can it fend for itself? Is it ready?
(Oh, and the results of the xray came back positive for pneumonia. Which would explain my poor girl’s endless nighttime coughing.)
Today is a perfect fall day, crisp, pale blue sky threaded with grey clouds.
Today, I will sit at my desk and write.
Today, I will enjoy this cup of coffee and wish for a second one.
Today, I did not get up early for yoga. When the alarm sounded, I turned it off and crawled back into dreamland.
Today, I ate porridge for breakfast, plus an egg with toast.
Today, I kissed and hugged four children, reminded them repeatedly to get ready for school, listened to them play the piano, and bribed one of them to go to math club once a week.
Today, the builders arrived to continue their work.
Today, I will sit at my desk and make up stories about characters I’ll never get to meet in real life.
Today, I pause to remember my Gramps. Once, he took me to see wild horses. Mustangs. It was sadder than I thought it would be. I was ten or eleven. The mustangs were corralled for sale on a ranch, of sorts. I remember dust. I don’t know what my Gramps thought of it all. What the wild horses meant to him. I think he appreciated the atmosphere of wheeling and dealing. But I know he loved horses, too, like I did. When I think of him, I think of horses.
Today is a perfect fall day, yellow leaves on green grass, and the frost lifted by the sun.
Today, I will write something for Gramps.
Albus is the only lunch room helper in what sounds like a grade two classroom (the info I get from him isn’t always 100% accurate). At the beginning of the year, he was one of three lunch room helpers in the classroom, all of whom had volunteered for the job, but apparently “lunchroom helper” is a job with some attrition, because he’s now the only one. Lunchroom helpers supervise during two “nutrition breaks” as lunch is now called, and as I understand it there are no teachers in the classroom during that time. Just Albus. And a bunch of kids. Eating. And probably talking and laughing and potentially fooling around.
He says there have been no problems. He just has to stand up to eat his lunch (he didn’t qualify that as a problem).
So I said, um, what would you do if someone started choking?
And he shrugged and said with an optimistic uplift in his voice, “Hope for the best?”
Very proactive of you, Albus. Very proactive. (For the record, I suggested that in addition to hoping for the best, he head for the hallway and shout for a teacher.) But, really, I’m super-proud of him for volunteering to help out, and for sticking with it; and also for volunteering to torture parents walking their children home from school by being a school crossing guard, too. (Parents waiting for the 10-year-old kid in a safety pinny to tell them it’s safe to cross know exactly what I’m talking about…)
**Photo from our summer holiday, but of course. Doesn’t he look beautiful, and quite possibly, responsible?
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