Last night M cried before going to sleep. “Mommy, will I ever see my class friends again?”
I said, “Yes, you’ll see them. Most of them will be going to your school again in the fall. And friends are friends. We’ll see some of them in the summer. Plus, you have camp coming up, and you’ll make some new friends there.”
M wasn’t convinced. “But, Mommy, I want to know which of my friends will be at my camp. I want my old friends.”
We have these conversations every time there’s a beginning or an ending. Before school starts, before it ends, before camp, and then by the time camp is over, he’s made new friends and doesn’t want to leave them.
I told him we were going to see one of his class friends the next day. He fell asleep. Finally.
I fell asleep right after him. I woke up in the middle of the night, disoriented. I didn’t know what day it was. After going back to bed and sleeping in (until around 8am!) I felt better. This graduating K business is exhausting. Endings usually are followed by a need to rest. But so are beginnings–all that excitement, fear, and loss mixed in with the unknown ahead. Until you know, you don’t know.
We took our cat to the vet today for her annual checkup. I need to call tomorrow morning to get the results of some tests the vet said she needed to run. Ringo has lost some weight. She’s 14 years old. Senior kitty. I spent today trying to not to think about it. I’ll know more when I call in the morning. But of course there’s dread. What ifs. I push it all out of my mind. The same way I reassure M that yes, he’ll most likely see his friends again, I tell myself, everything will be OK. I can’t even allow the thoughts in. What’s the point in fretting too much when you don’t know and you can’t know until you know and until then, you just don’t know? Being comfortable with unknowns is difficult, and one thing that works for me (sometimes) is to get very involved in the present moment. Literally, only be here now. It isn’t something I can always sustain, but when I do that, it helps.
It’s the same with friendships, beginnings, endings, transitions, comings and goings, all life’s separations. We need to tell ourselves that we’ll see our friends again. That our cat will be OK. Until we know differently, we have the hopes and wishes and that moves us forward. It’s as if we must choose to be happy about what is NOW, what is good right now, until we’re confronted with news that might shatter that. We’re here now.
M was thrilled to invite his friend over to play in our little pool this afternoon. It was proof to him that he’ll still see his friends. A person needs concrete proof sometimes. Or maybe often, that what’s real is real. Saying it is one thing, but a six year old wants to see it in action. Until then, it’s just words. When will we get there? And then we get there. When will my friend be here? And then they arrive. And they are here. Now, it is real. And the fun begins.
The afternoon passed with M and his friend playing and splashing and laughing. The other parent and I chatted in the shade and kept an eye on the kids. It was easy. Not all play dates are, but this one was. Every time we make a connection with someone, it feels good. Since it’s been almost three years since we moved here, we’re still new in town, but every new friendship makes this feel more like home, and makes the thought of what is happening here feel harder. Because know we know more people and care about more people. Nothing is hypothetical anymore. It is here. It is real. The friendships are real and what threatens us is also real.
And it all comes down to that. People. Friends. Our cat. Having fun and being silly whenever possible. So, I hope, I hope that the work I’m doing with our parent group here in town will have an effect and that we’ll change things for the better.
I know that kids learn when they can move around and DO things. So, I’m not worried about “summer learning loss.” Children need to play. They learn best through play. They need some unstructured time where not too much is planned and they can just BE. I’m certain M will learn a lot this summer. But mostly, I hope he has fun. I worry about the future but I’m also determined for us to have a happy summer. To not go into future worry about what might happen, but instead, to keep our eyes on the prize, to take every step we can to create change, and to allow ourselves to enjoy our lives as best we can while we fight hard for our schools.
I’m glad M told me he was sad about missing his class, about it ending. And at the same time, he’s really looking forward to the next step. I don’t know if there’s a way to not feel this ambivalence. I’m not sure life is any clearer when you push one feeling aside for another. It’s just one step, one splash, one friend at a time. And it’s quite possible to be completely thrilled one has finished something big, and at the same time, deeply sad that the something big is over, and you have indeed finished it and are moving on. Graduating.
Nemo said, “Keep swimming.” That’s what we’re gonna do. Keep swimming.
Thank you again and again to all of you for sticking with me through this crazy month, for posting, liking, and encouraging me, and to the recent newest subscribers–welcome. Just a few more days of the WordCount Blogathon 2013, which will end on June 30.
Good night and good morning,