People send their babies off to school every day.
I can do this.
Anne starts Grade 1 at our local primary school tomorrow. I keep trying to write out how and why we decided to send her to school this year, instead of homeschooling again, but I just can’t seem to get the words together. We have her little purple backpack and lunch box, her clothes are all picked out, classroom has been visited, teacher has been met. And I’m putting one foot in front of the other, even though I can hardly stand it somehow, even if I know it’s right and good (for right now anyway). I act like I know what I’m doing for her sake, I act like it’s wonderful, and then I pray and pray and pray for someone to be nice to her, for good friends, for her teacher to love this blindingly beautiful and winsome and wonderful and brilliant wee girl.
We’ve had a full weekend. We took the tinies to the fair on Thursday, spur-of-the-moment. They went on exactly five little rides, and they beamed and laughed and hollered like they were at Disneyland. I ate too many mini-doughnuts.
But today was a crappy day. Mostly my fault, of course. I felt tired and lethargic, angry under the surface, so I was Mum-on-a-rampage most of the day, with no patience. Quick to anger, I’m afraid, and I hate when I yell at the tinies, but sometimes, I admit, it’s just so damn satisfying to holler at everyone to BE QUIET FOR ONCE. That one brief second of silence afterwards is so worth it.
Thanks to our commitment to being the Present Parents in the Neighbourhood, we’ve wound up as the de-facto baby-sitters for every kid under ten in the neighbourhood. At any given time, I have kids all over my yard, and in my garage, there were 8 kids in our sandbox today, I spent all day Friday refereeing street hockey games.
The things that sound fantastic in missional theory are very inconvenient and rather tiring in real life. The discomfort of it is good for me, I know this, and this is part of our declared and practiced values as a family: We will be hospitable, we will be welcoming, we will love every kid in our neighbourhood, especially the lonely ones. And yet I informed the little lonely faces pressed against my back door screen today they would have to come back another time, this wasn’t a good time for us.
And they did. They came back exactly one hour later, to say, hopefully, “Now?” Oh, fine, I sighed, the tinies cheered, the little traitors.
I’m looking forward to the start of school in some ways, yes, I am.
After picking up the house for the thousandth time, I printed out Chore Charts, and taped them to the closet doors. See, here, tinies? You have responsibilities starting NOW. They were actually really excited. We’ll see if it works.
I decided to redeem the day with feasting. We fought and bickered and disciplined our way through making supper. As I choped up the vegetables from Brian’s garden, I managed to make all three of the tinies cry in unison, which, when you think of it, is both a tremendous accomplishment and a tremendous cacophony of grief. But we did it. We made a good supper, with real food, and we decided to eat outside to celebrate the last day of summer, the last day before Anne goes off into the world, the last day before this new chapter begins. We roasted corn on the grill, cooked steaks over a flame, I roasted all the carrots and squash and green beans, Brian poured me a glass of wine from a box.
Evelynn held her own in the corn-chomping competition, like a true daughter of Nebraska.
I made a peach-blueberry crisp, and we ate it, juice running down our chins.
I hoisted Anne up on my hips while we were cleaning up, she’s almost up to my shoulders in height already, this long lean Bessey-girl. I said, I might cry tomorrow but it’s because I love you and I’ll miss you but I’m really happy you’re going to school, I know you’re excited. She asked if her teacher would be like Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. I said I doubted it.
We read a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible every evening now. And, in an effort to cultivate joy and gratitude (and stop the whining), we bought a stack of composition books from the dollar store, and carefully labeled them our Thankful Books. We each have one, and so, after supper, we write five things that make us grateful or happy from the day into our books. It’s a big hit. Joseph is too little to print in his, so I’m his secretary.
Tonight, I wrote down that Joe was thankful for no one tooting in his face.
Ann Voskamp, eat your heart out.
We read stories, I nursed the baby, we put everyone to bed. There’s a steep drop in temperature already tonight, autumn is here. Every so often, among all of the green trees, one blazes out in scarlet leaves.
Tomorrow my Anne-girl leaves me to go to school. She’s skipping away, singing, and I’ll throw flowers, take pictures, and smile.
Just not right now.