The Great Milestone that is Back To School Time

Laurel's first day of school was on Wednesday and I did not take a picture. This was partly because I got a bonk on the head a couple of weeks ago and have lingering concussion symptoms, so just getting her to the school building itself on time was feeling like a pretty epic accomplishment. Even with the concussion, I did remember to pull out my phone as we approached the building but Laurel gave me a firm no. I think she was nervous.

School went fine and by Friday she happily posed for a "first day" picture. School is a funny thing. As a person with teaching experience, I ought to have a fairly good idea of what happens there, but so much of it is a mystery. Side conversations with her peers that happen out of the earshot of adults. Her perception of a disciplinary choice of her gym teacher. Why she's there in the first place. So much of the whole experience has nothing to do with the curriculum. At our parent conference last week, the teacher asked me what my goals were for Laurel for this year and I didn't really know how to answer the question. I mean, it's preK. I hope that she emerges from the year relatively unharmed and has a good time playing with a lot of kids on the playground. Read her some cool stories. Teach her to count.

On the first day, she came home delighted to be back in school. I got to make orange juice, she said, and then I got to drink it!

That seems like a pretty good thing to be doing in preK, I think.

It will be two more years before Marko is old enough for this school, but he is firmly out of "baby" territory and exerting his will as an active toddler. He mimics everything that Laurel does, so getting him to act properly is very much about getting her to do it. He can say a few words: dog, duck, Lah-lu (Laurel), and apple. He still uses the sign for more. I'm learning a little bit about using Montessori with him and he loves to help around the house. Although he doesn't talk too much, he can definitely follow 1 and 2 step directions.

Last night, I was doing the dishes and realized it was pitch dark and only 8:30. That's the other part of Back to School. It marks the coming of the autumnal equinox. Our garden phlox has just about given up blooming. The dill went to seed. Our sunflowers, which we planted very late, are now towering over the rest of the garden, with thick stalks and umbrella-like leaves. When walking home from the playground yesterday, we found a few red leaves on the ground. We've now lived in this house for nearly six years and - the longest I've spent anywhere since my childhood home, and it's interesting to note what I have grown to notice and expect from my surroundings. The sunrise drifts from one end of the dining room window to the other and back again. The gingko trees across the street will not be the first to turn, but will be the most brilliant. The grass in our front yard will slowly turn to yellow as the winter deepens. The house itself will shift, tightening up as the moisture from the air disappears when the boiler turns on. The doors may shut properly in their frames again. We will change our habits, sleeping more and earlier.

As for me, I'm taking it easy. A few weeks ago I hit my head while I was cleaning the house. It really hurt, but I put some ice on it and didn't think too much about it. Next day, I still had a headache and a few other troublesome symptoms, and was instructed to rest from pretty much everything....no computer, tv, driving, exercise. This week, I'm trying to ease back in so I can return to work.


Summer Here

Summer has been pretty great. Lots of time on the porch and swimming pools. Marko is very much on his way to Two, with daily assertions of his displeasure at the rules I impose (no, you cannot cut your cheese stick with a butcher knife), but also lots of hugs and snuggles. He finally likes to read (whew) and brings me his favorite books, then turns around and plops himself into my lap.

Laurel says at least 50 amazing things a day and I keep thinking I need to catalog them or video tape her or something. We had this conversation about hang gliding and parachuting the other day that was just not what I was expecting to talk about with my four year old. She still loves reading about animals and science. Today I had a meeting with a biologist and we talked about using microscopes and magnifying glasses with some of the kiddos I work with, and I kept thinking that Laurel would really love every single one of those lessons - looking at insect legs and your fingerprint and the stomata of leaves.

The two of them together are a tornado of destruction, though. Tumbling over each other, wrestling like puppies. Taking out every single puzzle or toy or book. Food dropped all over the place, even though we are really trying to enforce eating at the table. They yell at each other and laugh really loudly and share everything. Lollipops and books and germs. They are not afraid of new people. Marko just learned to shake hands from the Councilman Burgess, who stopped by our ice cream social. Laurel will tell you everything five minutes after you meet. At the swimming pool, she bobs and gossips with a group of moms hanging out in the far opposite corner of the kiddie pool. In the grocery store, she tells the clerk what we are having for dinner, where we went this morning and whatever embarrassing piece of information I really wish she hadn't overheard.

She says "Jeeee-sus" when she is awed or irritated. (Wonder where she got that from?)

Marko says "taco" and "backpack" and shakes his head no.

I wish we had a hundred more years of summer, but I'll be glad when fall gets here and we can tuck ourselves under covers and watch the leaves blow into our yard.