31 for 21: Day 15- corner view: rough

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar.

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“Quail. We need to talk about drop-off, ok?”

She ducks her head and scuffs her purple shoe back and forth. I’m sitting on the floor in front of her doing my best imitation of placid…

The Quail looks guilty and irritated. Clearly not happy about what I want to talk about. I started dropping her off at school approximately two years ago. I admit- taking a three year old to school, it took something out of me. The staff at the school were beyond kind and accommodating. Each day on the drive there we would sing and talk and practice our A,B,Cs and 1,2,3s. We used that time to connect and practice her approximations and articulations in an environment free from sisters proclamations and involvement. She loved those rides and so did I. When we would pull up to the school we were allowed to park in the lot, avoiding the drop-off line while her teacher came out to meet us. Sometimes walking with her, sometimes carrying her- always greeting her with a hello, how are you and talk of the day to come. For the most part the Quail enjoyed the drop-off. She would have momentary lapses of shyness, but she generally played along nicely. The next year drop-offs weren’t my job. She was spending 5 half-days at school, but they started mid-morning so the public school bus would arrive at her daycare each day at the same time and Ray the driver would greet her and off they would go. I was told the driver and assistant loved their jobs and would sing and count and talk with the children. The Quail loved Ray so much that her teachers told me how one day the district switched the bus without any notice and as the Quail stepped out of the daycare doors and saw a bus that was clearly not hers she stepped back saying, “No bus. Curley’s bus. No Quail bus.” She only agreed to get on at the point that Ray stuck his head out calling her name, at which point she cheered and ran over to him. At the end of the year, I met a mother of another kiddo in her class and she talked about how each day when she met the bus with her own son she would see the Quail peering out the window at her and would wave. The Quail looked at her stoically until one day in the late spring, she waved back. The  mother smiled back. This small act made her come up to us at the 4k graduation to tell us about it and how much she looked forward to seeing the Quail each day. That she just looked so capable and independent.

Earlier this fall, a mutual friend asked me to give this same woman a call. She had given birth to  a baby girl over the summer. Her fifth- and the sweet little girl was diagnosed quite unexpectedly with Down syndrome. When we spoke she told me that within an hour of her infant being born she looked at her and wondered if she might have Down syndrome and her next thought was of the cautious little girl on the school bus who one day decided to open up to her and wave back. She said she hoped that life would be as good for her daughter as it seems to be for the Quail. This filled my heart and eyes. That the Quail had provided hope for another little one and her mother just by being herself out on her own in her community.

This year the Quail is in school for a full day. Which means she now gets to go to and from school with her sister. Both she and Zuzu have been planning how this would go throughout the summer months. They traded lunch boxes, parceled out who got which dresses from the bi-annual consignment sale, traded seats in the car and talked and practiced endlesslyu about when and how these drop-offs would work. Lovey did the first week of drop-offs and for him there were no issues. They drove up, Zuzu got out, then the Quail did and everyone went off to their days. Then I started the drop off. I pulled up. Zuzu reached over to help undo the five-point harness that we still strap the Quail into and the Quail protested. She wanted my help. Easy enough. I put the car in park and leaned back and undid it. Zuzu got out, the Quail grabbed her backpack and then balked. It was a long step down. So Zuzu stepped in again, took her backpack from her and offered her hand. The Quail squawked at her, but climbed out. I slowly pulled away eyeing them through my rearview mirrors. Ignoring the cars in line behind me that surely wished I would just pull out already. The girls weren’t moving. Zuzu looked irritated as she tried to coax the Quail to come with her. I finally pulled into a parking spot and got out to watch. As it continued I got more anxious and just as I started to walk up to them, the Quail acquiesced and in the building they went. The next day we all repeated this scene. And the next day more of the same. Then I happened to ask about what happened when they went in the school. Zuzu happily informed me that the Quail refused to get up to go when the kindergarteners were called and loved it when she took her to her classroom. As I mentioned earlier– I had laid down the law about this. The Quail needs to learn to get there on her own and follow the expected routine. That didn’t go over well then, and it continues to not go over well now.

We were out the other weekend when a friend came up to me chuckling about how he was initially worried when he pulled up to drop off his kids and saw the Quail standing on the sidewalk but our car gone. He explained that there were about 10 children milling around her trying to convince her to go inside. Sigh. I felt simultaneously annoyed and grateful. Annoyed that this routine is not the routine I think it should be- the routine that safely delivers her from our car into the school building filled with in-charge adults and grateful that she has become so ingrained in her community that others don’t just walk on by. That they stop to talk and lend a convincing hand. And considering we pick her up everyday at the end of the day- all has been well in the end. It still worries me though. She’s never been a runner. Neither at home or out and about. But still. I want her to just get out of the car and go inside. I already gave in to the fact that her sister likes to walk her to class, the teachers think that is fine and the Quail thinks that is fine. After watching her for a few days I realized what was going on. She was looking for her friends. One day Miley got out and they ran off into school together. Another day it was last year’s classmate Hunter. I heard him call her name and as he walked up they joined hands and went in together. Another day as I was squawking at her to get out of the car already- dear Mrs. P- Zuzu’s former teacher popped her head in asking if we needed help. The Quail turned on the charm and reached right out to her. Another day it was her own teacher from last year. People are wonderful- they really are taking care of her. Still though- I find this drop off rough….the roughest part of this entire adjustment from a preschooler to an elementary schooler. The feelings I had watching Zuzu walk off into the school by herself that first year are just amplified by all the what-ifs that I’ve trained my mind to watch for and problemsolve before they actually reach that level. It’s rough to settle my own feathers and watch her spread her wings. And it’s rough to know when to helicopter in for a landing and when to hover further back.

In the meantime while we continue to work this out- I’m grateful for all the feather smoothing our community has been providing for us.

…”So I need you to just go inside when you get out of the car. Ok Quail? If your friends are there you can walk in with them, but if they are not, you are to go in with your sister and not wait for someone else to walk off.- Got it?”

“Yes.”

“So what do you do when I pull up to the school?”

“Get out.”

“And if you don’t, what will happen?”

“Momma angy. No cake. No TV.”

“Right. But you know to go inside right? No more waiting outside- Go. In.”

“Yeah!!! Go in!” She does a little dance and leans in plumping my cheeks with her hands as she rubs our noses together and I finally grin. She lets go, grabs her backpack and as she swings it on her small shoulders hollers for her sisters.

“Bye Sug! Zuzu come on!”

31 for 21: Day 8- corner view: darkness

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar

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When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.

corner view: rock

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar

Timing is everything! Last weekend we spent our days and nights at a Family Camp up in the mountains in Western North Carolina. This was our second  year attending and in addition to the fabulous food, activities and company- the rock-view they provided was absolutely stunning! This is called Pretty Place and is aptly named. The first time I saw it, it literally took my breath away. Many people travel up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the sun rise and find some peace of mind. In the first photo you’ll see a figure with a guitar. When I walked in this woman and her friend were singing “I’ll Fly Away.” The sensory experience of the music, the stillness of the air, the smell of the trees and the panoramic view is a visceral memory that I’ll have for the rest of my life.

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corner view: beginnings

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

“I no care for dat. I want dat bed.” Sugarplum’s small voice chokes back a sob in my ear as her tiny finger unfurls from my hair and points behind her towards the open doorway. Looking down at her lanky 2 year old body that clings to me like all good baby monkeys do, I’m surprised by the calm in her statement. I pause and give her a quick squeeze. “It’s ok, remember what we talked about, this is your big girl crib. Your sisters want you to sleep in here with them. Look- at all your lovies and babies- they’re waiting for you.”

“No lovey. No baby.“ Her voice edges towards anger as I hold her soft unicorn blanket up to my face to tempt her into a snuggle. “No nocorn.” I grin at her funny little word for unicorn as she starts to bat it away from my face. Peeling her off my chest, her protests ratchet up a notch so I pull her back to me and ask if she wants to neh-neh a little more. Hugging her agreement into me I grab a handful of her babies (her word for blankets) into our arms and head back into our room. I hear her whisper, “My bed” as we pass the pack and play she’s slept in all her small life and settle back on my mattress. Separation hasn’t come easily for any of us and this autumn is the start of many new ones. I find myself clinging to these strawberry headed girls even as I try to hide my frowns so that they will follow their own leads rather than mine.

Zuzu was a cosleeper from the beginning. She preferred to be held at all times of the day and only acquiesced into separate sleep on the condition of a perpetually rocking swing or a tight swaddle into the Snugglenest between her dad and I with one of our fingers available for her suckle at any given moment. She was moved into her own big-girl bed at 24 months but continued to inch her way back into our room as often as she could finagle it. As long as she started out in her own bed, we typically gave into her nighttime searchings as it rendered better sleep for all of us. As my belly grew with the Quail’s impending presence things got much tighter in our queen sized bed though, and little by little Zuzu gave into the idea of sleeping in her own bed. That is until the Quail arrived home from the hospital. Then the sad doe-eyes bore into my heart and I invited her back in between us as the Quail wiggle-wormed her way night after night down from the Snugglenest dangerously close to our tangle of blankets. Despite the finger waggling of the pile of sleep-training books I kept on my nightstand, an Arms-Reach sidecar for her and the pillow between Mom & Dad for Zuzu became the regular arrangement. When both girls were eventually herded back into their very own toy and book filled, lovingly adorned bedroom they had each other and the Quail, unlike her sister kicked with glee at the sight of the crib.

When Sugarplum came home from the hospital we had all our options open waiting to see how best she would sleep. Luckily, she went down easily enough between us. When we realized that she wasn’t going to require movement or holding to nod off to dreamland we moved her over into the co-sleeper and breathed a sigh of relief. As she outgrew the co-sleeper and continued to sleep easily enough we set her down each night in the pack and play in our room, vowing to think longer term sooner rather than later. The girl’s made their way into their own co-sleeping arrangement and seemed content enough with it until the last few months. As company came and their double bed was offered up they started to enjoy not sharing their bed and both privately asked for separate beds. When company left and they were told to return to their own bed, the Quail chortled on about sleeping in the office on her own. When we spent a weekend away in a cabin with bunkbeds the girls gleefully claimed their up-down places and only grumblingly returned to a shared bed at home. So the hunt for bunkbeds for them is officially on. While we still need them to share a room for the time being, separate beds seem to be the mutual consensus.

At the beginning of the summer Lovey and I talked about moving Sugarplum in to the girls room and the gently used crib. Neither of us were in any rush to have her not sleep in our room and instead I followed her lead in not nursing the moment we got home from our days apart. That need for the immediate connection after being apart from me has definitely lessened as she chooses to bound after her sisters while they tear through the house. Summer has passed and with the beginning of the school year approaching and the need for earlier bedtimes in preparation for the thinking mornings, I’m grateful that she doesn’t feel the need to nurse- well to be truthful, equal parts grateful and groaning. That 20-30 minutes of time to just lay down and not think, or do, or prepare, or anything is something that I hate giving up. Both for the connection and the restfulness of that hit of soothing hormones at the end of my day.
That first night Sugarplum protested but quickly relented. She doesn’t ask for her other bed now a week plus into the transition. Her feelings are still mixed about sleeping away from us though and she does protest at the separation from nursing to the girl’s room at nap time. For some reason bedtime is acceptable. I’ve yet to pack up the pack and play. I’ll probably hold out until she actually calls the crib, “My bed”. It’s hard to let go- even into the next room over. It’s hard to begin again.

corner view: inner child

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

 

I think my inner child has been playing hide-and-seek for the last decade or so- but in the last year- I’ve had many happy experiences that remind me of the happiness of childhood- running, reading, giggling, playing make-believe, drawing, exploring….now that my girls are moving their way out of the intensive baby years I seem to be able to relax and enjoy both my time with them and my time that’s just for myself much, much more.

corner view: growth

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

 

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“Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.”
Karen Maezen Miller, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood

corner view: gift

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

Frankly, I was embarrassed and disappointed at my lack of control in how last year’s Mothers Day went. Why is it that when upsets happen on a holiday it makes them all the more poignant and easy to over-articulate meaning in to them that maybe, really wasn’t. This practice I have- of trying to ruffle the small bits of gratitude for individual moments- it is just that- a practice. Sometimes it is so very hard to just sit and let something be, to not read anymore into it and give it power that wasn’t inherently there. Over time, the good, the bad, the ugly- it all dissipates- so why not hold on to the sweet, good and kind and let the rest go it’s natural way. This year, I was very conscious of my part in the day- conscious to not place overarching expectation- to just sit with and receive where we were as it came. My seven-year old- she is so very expressive. She made six separate cards for me- but the one that is probably the most raw in the expression of her feelings for me is below- honest, unconditional love. Little ones- they say what they think- they have no problem staying in the moment. We paced our sweet day much better this year- and the gifts- they were lovely and heartfelt and those of you who helped to make them- you have a place in my momma heart as well.