Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2 years...

It's been 2 years since my dear, sweet friend Nikki passed away. And yet it was just yesterday that she stopped over to see me and O and share that she was pregnant. Just yesterday she called to say her beautiful baby girl had come early and she was now part of the c-section club. Just yesterday that she was pulling me down the hallway in a wagon after school. And singing with a margarita and playing inappropriate rap music for my little baby Owen and planning how parades and so many other things would go so much more smoothly if she were just in charge. And so many, many other wonderful things that seemed to have happened just yesterday.

Some days I still wake and realize that she is gone and my heart aches for the loss of her and all that she is missing and what we are missing by not having her here. Life does continue on after the loss of a loved one but the grief is still right under the surface. Especially when the loss is so incomprehensible.

Not too long ago I had a dream with Nikki in it. I don't recall the specifics of it but I remember waking up with that sinking feeling, that is reality. But I was also happy for the dream because she was there in it alive and well and talking back to me. I still talk to her. About the things I would talk to her about if she were here. And I try to imagine what she would say. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

And just like that...

Owen is a kindergartener. Not unlike many major events in a person's life, there was all kinds of preparation and anticipation and then, in the blink of an eye, it began. And as is probably often the case it was the most traumatic for the mama (or me). I sobbed Monday evening (as I mentioned in my previous post.) Tuesday I woke to, "Mama! What yur doin'?" It was not yet 6 am so I was, as you may have guessed, still asleep. That day O and I were scheduled to go to his school together for just an hour of school. The goal was to meet the teacher, see the classroom, meet a few classmates, bring our supplies and see how the typical daily routine would be. We were supposed to be there at 1pm. Owen was ready at the door by 7am. He dressed himself in the appropriate clothes for school from the drawer in his dresser that holds all his uniform clothes. 
Earlier in the summer these uniform clothes were the source of a big meltdown. He needs to wear polo shirts. Polo shirts have collars and buttons. Owen is not a fan of either. Meaning he would go naked in a snowstorm before he would choose a shirt with a collar and buttons. When the shirts arrived (I ordered them from Lands' End) he of course noticed the box and was eager to see what was inside. He loves packages! I explained what the shirts were for and he promptly became a flailing, sobbing, screaming mess of a boy. He did not want to wear THOSE shirts with buttons! And it was the edges of the buttons specifically, that he did not like. I told him at his new school all the children wear these clothes and he declared that he did not want to go to a school where he could not wear his own clothes. I explained that they were his own, I had bought them for him. "NO! MY REGULAR CLOTHES!" ie., no buttons, collars or boring colors without pictures. I put the shirts away and decided we would talk about them another time. Perhaps when he was in a more sane and rational mood. Yes, I know I'm referring to a 5 year old. Eventually, weeks later, I washed the shirts and got him to try one on for about 30 seconds just to see if it fit. There was not a meltdown but he was still not happy about the shirts. Fortunately, I was able to find pants in kahki and navy blue that do not have buttons or zippers. Oh yes, there are rules for the kinds of pants he will wear too. I was able to get him to try on the pants to check for size and he actually said, "Oh, I like these pants." and then, "I like the shirts too." I had a moment where I wondered if he and Morgan had been drinking beer together before I got home, but he smelled fine and his eyes were focusing so I figured maybe he had done some adjusting to the uniform concept. 
Okay, so as I mentioned he was ready by 7am. We didn't need to be there until 1pm. It was going to be a long 6 hours. We talked him out of his shoes and backpack. He had some breakfast. He played some legos. He watched a tv show. He asked me three times if it was time for school yet. He played outside with the daycare kids. We had some lunch. Finally, it was time to leave! I love that Owen approaches most things in life as a new adventure. Provided he has enough time to anticipate the event. If we hadn't spent most of the summer talking about and getting ready for school, he may not have been as eager. But he was definitely ready. 
When we arrived he was a little taken aback by his teacher talking to him in Spanish. But being a teacher she was able to recognize this apprehension and direct him out of it. I believe it also helped a great deal that I was there with him. For both of us. 
He found his hook, and his cubby and chose a seat at a table in the front of the room. He chose a seat at the end of a table facing the front of the room. I was so proud! He has a prime seat for all the action. His teacher took us through what a typical lesson would be like in the classroom and Owen was engrossed the whole time. 
(Frankly my head was starting to hurt! I think his teacher did a wonderful job with the lesson and teaching immersion is no easy task. It is very much hands on and requires a lot of energy. Both on the part of the teacher and the student. I have a hard time because I'm always trying to picture in my head how the words she is saying are spelled. I can read things in Spanish (not with a lot of understanding) and pronounce them because I know how the letters sound and I do this with English words too. For instance, I have a coworker who's name is Elisha. It is pronounced Alicia. I always want to pronounce it E-lisha, because of how it's spelled. And there are so many words in Spanish that sound the same (to me) but are spelled differently that I feel like if I see the words then maybe I will be able to remember the meaning. Obviously this is not how immersion education works!)
After our hour was up we waited for O's friend to have his hour (the A-H kids were first then the I-Z kids) and then we had a brief play at the park with his friend and a snack. On the way home O fell asleep. He slept for at least 2 hours. He also fell asleep on Wednesday, tried to Thursday but I gave him chocolate milk, and on Friday when he fell asleep on the way home I just let him sleep. 
Tomorrow he begins going to the before kindergarten program, which is specifically for K students who are in 1/2 day but need all day care. The program builds on what the kids are covering in their regular class and includes lunch and recess. Then he goes to his afternoon class and comes home. I'm sure he will be wiped out again. He's been getting up around 6am everyday and he goes and goes all day! 
All ready for the Pre-first day!
At his seat in his classroom.

Cheezy smile on the actual first day.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Beginning a new chapter...

Besides writing about Nikki I think this is probably one of the hardest posts I have written. I've only just begun and I'm already tearing up. 
Tomorrow is Owen's first day of school. Sort of. Tomorrow we go together for about an hour and then Wednesday he begins. On his own in Kindergarten. This seriously brings me to sobbing tears. My baby is going to school. Everyday. On his own with other kids whose parents I don't know, who aren't my friends and who I may not even like. Which I guess happened last year for preschool but it was a smaller class and only 3 days a week. And he did famously and I was fine and we adjusted. And I know it will (most likely) be a wonderful year. It's just that at the beginning of things I always look at the big picture of it and freak out about how we are going to get through it. It takes me a bit of time to step back and look at it one day at a time. (Or a week and a half since that's how much of the transportation planning we've done thus far!) I worry about how he's going to deal with being immersed in spanish, if he's going to sing the inappropriate songs that he's learned from Morgan (or some choice words from me), how he's going to make new friends (which I really shouldn't worry about) or use the bathroom on his own (if a #2 should occur!). I worry about him being teased or picked on or getting hurt. And I see all of these things at one time and feel so overwhelmed and anxious and wonder if maybe I should just keep him home where he will be safe and loved and protected. I know our job is to raise him to be a grown-up but it just happens so fast. I'm not sure where the last 5 years have gone. Even though it's, for the most part, well documented in photographs and scrapbooks. I feel like we aren't cherishing his childhood days enough. That we need to cram more into each one of them. More meaningful adventures. More games and pretend and legos and always more cuddles. But at the same time the minutia of each day still needs tending to. The laundry and the dishes and work and cleaning up toys. And more and more he's becoming a part of that. So the cherishing is becoming less about putting him at the center of attention and more about including him in what we do everyday. It's hard to raise an only child. And I know I have friends who laugh at that and think it's cake because we only have one child to deal with and discipline and feed and care for. And I suppose there is some truth to that. But there is always the danger of that one child becoming self-centered and selfish. Which is something we don't want at all. And that hardest part of having an only is the overwhelming feelings I have at times when we are doing something for the first and the last time at the same time. Like the first day of kindergarten. I don't get a do-over with a second or third child. I get one chance. And I am often conscious of trying to make those moments perfect. Recording all my thoughts and feelings and observations and taking enough pictures of every little detail. I suppose in some way raising an only child is perfect for me. I only have one to obsess over.
So now that O is finally asleep and I have everything (almost) ready I can try to go to sleep so we are both ready for both of these special days!

But not without leaving you with two of my favorite pictures from our recent SD and MT vacation trip. 

For surviving a summer of daycare Owen got to choose a new toy. He selected a Captain America Mask and Shield. Which he wore on a hike in Custer State Park in SD.
Reviewing his pictures in MT. I love how he's just reclining on that big rock.