You know what I like about being my kid's mom? It's that I really know him. Not just the things he likes-- his favorite shows and toys or which kind of Lara bar he'd rather have-- but what he's really about. Who he is, uniquely, and what he needs from me.
Today, the word 'upbeat' came into my head. We've had a good day today, the day before school starts. The guys started work on the windows and it just made sense to head out into the day, to break up the usual daily routine and have some novelty. To be honest, the day hadn't started at all well, but I got that off my chest early on and moved forward. We went out to search for a Thermos initially and I structured the day around it to include lunch at a favorite sushi restaurant--he's getting better with his chopsticks, a trip to the zoo for an hour or so, a jaunt back downtown to buy a Clone Wars thermos (hey, at least Yoda is on it) , a stop at Pearl Bakery for us to share a croissant and a much-needed small latte pour moi, a visit to Powell's to browse ( Must note the new Alan Say book "The Favorite Daughter", a lovely story) , shopping for groceries and a partridge in a pear tree. We took the 4:12 bus home to our little neighborhood and voila! we had just enough down time before dinner and rolling into bedtime.
Did I talk about school? No. Did I mention anything he might be worried about? No. I let him just lead the conversations and was present with him, delighting in some silly things, hurting my back to help him up high enough to see fish jumping out of the water as they were being fed... it was worth it, the look on his face. He had an Icee of an unrealistic blue color and got the cold shivers in the shade and we snuggled up to warm him and he just giggled. Giggling, too, at the invitation to smell the 'strong scent of the bobcat....uses its pungent urine to mark it's territory'~um, no thanks! It was the light and silly moments that made the day good. Even just agreeing to the crappy merchandised thermos somehow made the day better. It was as though even if I couldn't give him a perfect life or a perfect school year, at least he had something he thought was cool and actually cared about. Even if just using the thermos for lunch is something that makes him happy for a few moments for a few weeks, that's something, right?
Upbeat is how I think we have to be, when we see our kids walking into new challenges. It's okay to empathize, but to also move through that empathetic moment to the "looking forward" moment. Today, when school was mentioned by him, I said that yeah, it's going to be different, and I am so glad his buddy will be in his class. When he complained after dinner about it, I had him help choose the goodies for his lunch box. I want him to be sure to have something to look forward to, and this is one area I actually can have control and offer control to him. The conversation also gently veered to "it will be fun to have recess with your friends again" and "It will be interesting to see what sort of things will be in your new classroom".
The challenge, I think, will come in a few days or a few weeks, when the honeymoon (if any) ends. I am dreading the mountains of paperwork I will get in the next week or so, and know that life is going to change for our family with the quantity and nature of homework, for him being gone 6 hours a day in instruction.... so I'm going to try to be upbeat for myself as well. Remembering to take care of myself, to take walks, to chant "this too shall pass" when it's him and "it's not him, it's me" when my hormones kick into gear. I will watch comedies, get books on disc to listen to while I work, and avoid NPR for a while-- the war drums make me anxious. This is a time to batten down the hatches a bit, to accept that it's going to be a rough few months as these transitions are, and do what I can to stay upbeat for us. Sometimes, one parent has to lead the charge and guide the family through changes and I'm up to the task. Upbeat to it.