I didn't expect to feel loss over school this Fall -- it's an in between year, a repeat in routine: preschool and a second year of elementary school -- but two weeks in I am aware of change, and change, as they say, involves loss. The changes are quiet, daily, hard to see. But I feel them. They are small shifts in space.
The school bus contributes. Rather than all piling in the car each morning, driving up to school, my kissing Silas goodbye on the sidewalk and watching his skinny little body trumped by a plaid backpack hustling up the school walk, I walk out the front door, wait for a minute with neighbors and watch him climb three school bus steps and disappear into the crowd behind the tinted windows. Whom does he sit with? What do they talk about? I don't know. Seven hours later, he emerges into sunlight with a sheepish smile, trying to stifling how proud he is of himself for another independent ride and how glad he is to see me there waiting. We walk home holding hands, his backpack on my shoulders.
By bedtime, what I know of those seven hours we spent apart is about three minutes worth of answers I've tugged out of him -- what he ate for lunch, one person whose name he's not sure of whom he spoke with at some point in the day, whether he sat alone on the bus, and a quick explanation of a math sheet in his folder. That's it, the report from his space.
Last year, the second Eden climbed into the car, she burst with chatty news about her morning. A minute or so in, I'd recognize her story-teller voice and, realize no one had actually climbed a tree, or fallen down, or laughed that hard at a joke, or dug a big hole or-- at least not in the way she was telling it. But I loved the enthusiasm, the silliness, and the facts tucked into her tales the way they're tucked into dreams. This year, she's settled into her car seat and told me they ate an elmo cookie for red day snack, that she dug in the sand, or that she saw her teacher from last year down the hall, and that's about it. So far...
Our connections emerge through the afternoons in play and over time, not in nose-to-nose conversation. I am learning this is all right. But it isn't my favorite. And the needs of each afternoon are so different: sometimes Eden and Silas disappear for hours, chatting and playing hotel or sweeper or building shoots for marbles; and sometimes they bite at each other within a minute of being together; sometimes we sit on my bed the whole afternoon eating huge mouthfuls of stories; and sometimes we have to evacuate immediately to keep from yelling. We three are navigating the daily shifting spaces.
And in the midst of this navigation, the bumpy wagon-ride afternoons, I am waiting, braced for an onslaught of contractions at any moment and a baby to be born. I am wondering which ducks I still need to get in a row to soften our transition, to make lunch-making easier, to cut down quarrels, to help each of us know what to expect, to find ways to connect well with each other -- but, of course, I don't know. So instead, I am doing things piling grocery carts full of food to squirrel away in case I never emerge from newborn land again, and all we can eat is what's in the freezer or cupboard... This week we ended up with an excess of zucchini, a food my kids won't even really eat, so Eden and I made zucchini bread. This recipe makes a particularly good loaf. I am pretty sure I could sit down to an entire pan...
First Day of School Zucchini Bread
(makes two loaves)
2 c grated zucchini
2 c sugar
1 c oil
1 T vanilla
1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/4 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 T cinnamon
(1 c nuts)
-grease/spray loaf pans
-sprinkle zucchini with salt and let drain 1 hour, squeeze out (I forgot the salt and my zucchini drained nothing -- bread is still great, so I figure you can skip this step if need be)
-beat eggs, add sugar, oil and vanilla
-sift dry ingredients together
-bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes