Tuesday, September 29, 2009

a sign and a bowl of leaves

At some point, autumn arrived. Which frankly, is kind of rubbing my nose in the absence of summer. The disappearance of August, the blur that was September.

Really, any number of things appear to have vanished on me. The summer, bursting at the seams with discoveries, such as this local resource, which allowed slightly grubby, map-wielding boys to practice the fine art of hiking, getting lost, unlost and peeing into local waterways.

(and no, I won't show you a picture)

The school prep arrived, mid-summer, hoisting a mammoth set of lists (school A, preschool B, to do for meeting 1, for meeting 2, for meeting 3, for follow-ups until late into many wee a.m.s), hollered continuously in my ear from oh, June onwards, and then suddenly, fell silent. School! School! School! School! rushed in to fill the space, with a small dash of ohmygoodbritchesandstiches - a carpool? Appallingly, we found ourselves inadvertently early to school, and then to preschool. For three weeks straight. Who can keep that up?

(When we pulled in 2.5 minutes late today, I offered up a quiet sigh - of relief.)

And then, the chagim were upon us.

If I stop being chipper for a moment, I'll admit that the second half of summer was an ordeal. Not the parenting part, that was tough in spots in an entirely (okay, almost entirely) standard-issue fashion. But the school prep was enormous, and worse, it was shared. The Man and I worked together on it for the first time evah to assemble resources for the teachers, to write explanations of how to handle allergens in the classroom, what Good Manufacturing Practices actually means - and why it's not even close to reliable as a way of saying "safe." And recipes, and lunch ideas, and snack ideas, birthday party ideas, and develop a gluten-free, vegan, kid-friendly *and* easy challah recipe, and, and, and, ack.

Let me put this simply: some things, it's easier to do myself. Some things, it's easier to do with someone - okay,anyone -besides the person I love, cherish and really hope to spend as many years with as possible. Some things, I should be smart enough to do with a girlfriend, or maybe a minion. (note to self: get minion) And, if I have to do it with my loved, I've got to remember to brush up on the diplomacy, and brace for long conversations about how the process is going, when I'm really just twitching to stop talking and get back to getting the job done.

Ah, meta-conversations. So almost-nearly-useful. Except when they are.

And a word of advice? If you do end up in this loving but rushed, ginormous To Do list of kid-with-thing school prep, buy a rope. And a shovel. Take up meditation. And when your partner suggests that maybe it's not worth doing something that you are certain is critical to helping walk that fine line between the child's needs and the school's needs, well, breathe. Put the stapler down, hon - it's really not going to make you feel better. Not in the long run, anyway.

Just breathe. (FYI, gritted teeth are acceptable)

And then blink, realize that the summer ended shortly before the kids hoisted their backpacks and bounced down the stairs, oh, a good four minutes before I managed to follow. Oh, and that so far, so good. And then, hello, it's Rosh Hashana, and there's the Eldest, unsubtly holding this:

Because if you are going to begin a new year, well, Nahman of Breslav might've had something there. Take another deep breath, hon, and find a way to greet each man with a pleasing face. The gargoyle thing does not seem to suit me, saith the Toddles, and he informed me that I was the grumpy parent, while the Man is definitively the fun parent.

Oh, ouch.

I walked around, smarting, and occasionally ranting about working parents vs home-working parents. And then apologizing to my offspring, when my rants became audible. Don't worry, Mum, I'm used to it, the Eldest soothed.

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow bloody ow.

Some years, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are a necessity. A chance to back up and rethink, after a time of change and grumps. Happily for me, neither of our boys are subtle. Panim yafot it is, then. And a healthy bowl of these:

We sat on the bed, the boys and I, with Yom Kippurd daylight fading outside our window. A bowl of autumn, of color and leaves fading from bend to crackle, between us. We looked at the bowl.

Every year, I told my unexpectedly solemn audience, leaves grow. Leaves fall. And then, they grow again. And every year, we make mistakes, realize our mistakes, and try to do better.

Every day, the Eldest corrected me. And I grinned. Yes.

These leaves are falling, and we can let them take some of our mistakes with them. What kind of mistake, or "I'm sorry" do you want them to be?*

I'm sorry for hitting my brother.
I'm sorry for not cooperating
I'm sorry for taking his Pokemon card
I'm sorry, said the mama, for not taking good enough care of myself, so that I can take better care of you.

two pairs of small boy eyes swivelled towards me. One set of eyebrows arched.

Because, said the mama, when I'm tired or I have too much to do, then I'm grumpy. And then I'm not having fun with you, am I?

two heads nodded solemnly. So, then. I'm sorry. And I'll try to do better, to find boy time in each day. Because boy time is part of taking care of me, you know. Boy time is good.

two grins quirked. They already knew that, but were too nice to say so, I suspect. And so we sat, a bowl of sorry leaves by our legs, our hands and arms wound around each other. And we watched as the sky striped with pink, shading grey and blues at the fading of the day.

*this was a type of Tashlich , in which we cast away the burdens and sins of the past year, by throwing bits of bread or cracker into a body of water. The Eldest's class, however, raised the problem of throwing stuff into the waterways, and they chose to do a class tashlich with peat moss. Give nature to Nature, the Eldest intoned. And glared when I suggested a family tashlich with Imperfect-friendly bread. So, leaves.

1 comment:

mother in israel said...

(Psst: the passage is from Pirkei Avot, 1:15)
Great to see that you weathered the holidays, summer and start of school one way or another. Shanah tovah.