A few things have changed in the last month. For one, Manny is not going to preschool anymore.
Some things haven't changed. Our bathroom sinks are still clogged and my ironing is still piled on the ancient ironing board next to our bed, which I accidentally bumped the other day and saw it is leaving rust marks on the floor, it has been there so long. And we are all still fighting remnants of colds we caught in the beginning of September.
Manny's was a double ear infection and it caused him to miss day 2, 3 and 4 of preschool. Actually, on day 4 I tried to take him, but when it was time to get dressed, he had a meltdown and then I had a big meltdown. It was my way of demonstrating to the children that they do not have the corner on expressing their dissatisfaction and despair over the smallest details.
You won't wear the clothes I picked out for you? I'll show you crying and screaming! I've been at it for 32 years! Stand back and admire my range! I can hit the low moan notes and the high-pitched wailing whines all in the time it takes you to outline the next item of your never-ending list of demands!
This was a really bad move on my part. And perhaps one that could not have been prevented. I was coming off of a sleepless night and Glory was wailing with fever and I really needed someone to pass the parenting baton to, but my giant stuffed raccoon from childhood who sits on the ridiculous toy washing machine that nobody plays with does not have thumbs, or even fingers for that matter and he kept dropping it. Silly raccoon.
So I took Manny to school and he stood in his classroom and cried. Cried the sad cries of a child who fears his mother is beyond help and is still wearing what looks like, but is not, some semblance of her pajamas in the hallway. The girls were buckled into their carseats in the van, but I had legitimate fear that Elena was going to crawl out and release the parking brake or shove a stray raisin up her nose and choke, so I really couldn't stand there and allow Manny or myself to suffer for too long. So I scooped him up and we never managed to get him to go again.
So now we are free of obligations, except to go to our dance class on Tuesday mornings. My friend Amy and I are taking all three kids to the Creative Dance Center where the kids warm up by climbing on my back at the same time and continuing the long-standing argument I like to call "My Mama!" But after they warm up, they have a grand time playing the musical instruments and finding their own creative way through the obstacle course and running under the magic parachute. At the end, they all gather around Anna the radiant teacher and she stamps their hands, their feet and their tummies. Manny never got a stamp on his tummy at preschool and it makes him really happy.
So this is the year of exploration.
Really, every year is. But it makes me feel good to spin it that way. When this whole preschool problem presented itself, it made me realize that all the children will go to school next year and so it will go until they are adults and I am almost 50. Gasp! So this is a special time and I am trying to be as engaged, loving and fun as I can be.
The week I took Manny out of preschool, I took the kids to Big Howe, the playground closest to our house, which I have avoided since the girls got really mobile because there are too many places the kids could hurt themselves and they all needed my close attention. Now, it's okay. Still a couple things to look out for, but much, much better.
The sun was shining and the warmth was radiating through our long-sleeved shirts. The kids were sharing in the sandbox and I was still reveling in the fact that we walked there without the assistance of our double stroller or baby carrier. I felt so light.
And then I noticed that Elena was rolling down the grassy hill behind me. Her delight was infectious, and suddenly, all my kids and a handful of others were rolling down the grassy hill. It wasn't smooth rolling. It was more like "AS....YOU....WIIIIISH!!" bumpy, messy, grunting rolling from The Princess Bride and my joy was only slightly diminished by my fear that they would roll over dog poop, develop a rash from the grass or get a bug lodged in their ear canal.
The other day Manny said to me emphatically, "The sky is blue and I want to watch a show." I love his ability to be direct without apology while still making space to revel in the natural beauty around and above us. As I seek to live into the opportunity for joy and discovery that is my every day, I will try to do the same, even if the only one listening is Racky the Raccoon. At least Racky doesn't have an opinion about my selection of socks when it's time to load into the car.