Kindergarten or Why I'm Crying This Time

This is the second week of school for LAUSD. It still feels like the middle of summer, but my Facebook feed is full of shiny faces, new shoes, and backpacks. Our tiny friends with older siblings are on different schedules, no longer able to meet up for an impromptu afternoon at the park.

For the first time, I really know some kids and some parents that had their first day of Kindergarten last week. Before this year, it has always been a vague, abstract, someday kind of idea. This year is different. This year it lands heavy on my chest. This year I cried at the pictures of other people's children on their first day of school. 

I can't tell you why I cried. Maybe it is because the school looks so big and she still look so small. Maybe it is because I've known him since he was half this age, held his hand and wiped his boogers. Maybe it is because I know how this big new step, not more than any of the others, but in a new sharp way, makes her mom feel that she is losing her, even when she knows that isn't true. Maybe it is because I don't have a plan yet. It's only a year away and I don't have a plan. 

But they all did it anyway. The first day of school came and went. The intelligence I've received from the other side, is that somewhere, deep down, all of the work of those first five years pays off. I've heard that they eat more at dinner and fall asleep in a sweaty heap in the middle of bedtime stories. I've heard that after six hours apart, they miss their siblings, who they've been been squabbling with all summer. I've heard it has been a grand adventure. 

Whether I am or not, they were all ready.

I'm so glad I have another year. 

It's So Hard to Remember

O: For my next birthday, I want tools, house-building tools.

K: Okay. Why?

O: Because I want to build my own house and move-out. Don't worry. It'll be close by. 

It is so hard to remember, when you are trying to finish a simple task made complicated by the squirming toddler on your lap, that someday they won't want to hug you in front of their friends.

It is so hard to remember, when they awaken every morning at 5:00am, that you will someday be dragging them out of bed.

It is so hard to remember, when every toy, book and art supply is strewn across the floor, the dishes are stacked inches from the ceiling, and no one has clean underwear, that someday this house will be empty, that even the junk drawer will be organized.

It is so hard to remember, when they cry at preschool drop-off, that someday soon, you will be the one crying as you leave them, be it the first day of elementary school or in their dorm room, or more likely, both.

It is so hard to remember, when you are frustrated and tired and impatient, that these moments are a gift, the things you will look back on with warmth, love, and longing, when things really get tough, when the stakes are so much higher.


And yet, it is impossible to forget, when you are rocking them to sleep, their heavy, sweaty bodies slack in your arms, their breath sweet and even, that they are only little for a second, that they are only ours for such a short time. Soon enough, we give them over, to kindergarden, to best friends, to sleep-overs, to summer camp, to college, to lovers, to the world. They are ours, in our hearts, forever, yet they are truly ours for only a moment.

Why is that so hard to remember?

There Are No More Babies in My House

O: I am not a tiny O anymore. I am a gigantic O who makes her own choices.

There are no more babies in my house.  O will be four at the end of the month and P is 20 months.  Somehow, last week, she stopped sleeping in the crib.  I'm still not sure how it happened.  I was cleaning their room and I started investigating what it would take to remove the one side of the crib railing. Next thing I knew, it was off and O, recognizing what a great fort this three sided crib/bed would make, quickly claimed it as her own.  I put the safety railings back on the toddler bed, and P climbed right in, like she'd never slept anywhere else.  We are realistically about 3 weeks away from being done with diapers all together, as P has been using the potty with more and more regularity since she was 6 months old. Yep, there are no more babies in my house.  

When did that happen?

When did that happen?

Maybe we should get a puppy. 

Growth Spurt

O: It is time to go to sleep, P, so you can grow big and strong like sissy. 

O went to bed and woke up an inch taller.  Her shoes don't fit anymore and her pants are too short.  She can't even shimmy into her most recent bathing suit.  She leaned out and shot up, her sweet round face morphing over night into the face of a girl instead of my baby.  

She was walking away from me, and I saw in her gait, her length, her shape, the adult O, striding into the rest of her life, with my hair,  her father's calves, and a confidence entirely her own.  

When Jim sends me pictures of P via text, I first think that it must be O, with pudgy knees and fluffy hair, until I enlarge the thumbnail and find, my newborn there, looking all too much like a toddler.  I swear, she was just born a minute ago. Or was it a year? Or was it nearly two?  

Stop it.  Both of you.  I need a chance to catch my breath, to catch up.  I feel like I'm missing all of it. Just stop it.  Okay?