••• Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Daze 

Lessons From a First Grader
I always face the new school year with a bit of trepidation, but most years I'm mostly excited about going back. As I mentioned a while back, this year the usual trepidation has been raised to levels of true anxiety, with no real basis, other than a few changes in the work environment. And any other work-related horror the mind can conjure, at 3 a.m.

And I really should know better.

In my 13 years with the school system, I have faced/overcame/survived some very intense, short and long-term professional challenges.

But just as every year is different from the one before in terms of unpredictable stressors, each school year also guarantees at least three specific, predictables: A beginning, an end and lots of breaks in between.

Segue Alert:

This past weekend, Cakers and her father hatched a little plan for her to go tubing. Alone.

When I heard about this plan, I immediately put to it, a gentle kibosh.

To Cakers I said: Ummm. This is something that daddy and I need to talk about for a couple of days, then decide together. ::i.e. Tubing, my ass.* With assorted, flying monkeys.::

To Cabana, I said: Tubing, my ass. With assorted flying monkeys.
She's too young. I mean, technically she’s still in kindergarten.
She needs to practice more with a grown-up.
Behind a paddle boat.

For one day, I held firm.
Then, late Saturday, Cakers asked again.
Her dad then approached me, in private, and made an appeal.

She really, really wants to do this, he said, then promised to go really, really slow.

It was a spectactular, late summer evening. The water was like glass, with nary an enemy U-boat or warship in sight.

So, armed with the knowledge and conviction that my husband loves Cakers no less than I, and would never put her in harm's way, I found the courage to let go. Or at least the courage to let her go tubing.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t scared.

I was.
And thrilled.
And proud.
And even a little envious, of her sense of adventure.

But mostly I was terrified.

Initially this post was going to be about fear. You know, about poor me, having to go back to work with all those big, mean scary changes. And how my big, mean husband and little, mean daughter committed against me, that heinous act of emotional terrorism.


But after I uploaded the pictures to the blog and started to write, a totally different story emerged. A lesson, if you will.

A lesson for the mother olden,
From her little daughter golden.

You see, the pictures depicting Cakers' little adventure on the high seas no longer looked like a scary venture, but instead reminded me of the phases of a typical (and survivable) school year, for me.

And it goes something like this:

1)The Fresh start. Note the hair, all flowy and light. And the coy little smile, nervous-yet-excited.

2) It gets Dicey. After a month or two, the year begins to reveal its true potential, forwarning the need to hang on and hunker down.

3) The Occasional Slap Upside the Head, When You Least Expect It. Self explanatory.

4) The End of the Trail . By that last day of the school year, this is pretty much how I feel/look. Flat and weary; with my hair stuck to my brain.

5) But Then... It's summer. Again.

And then I realized it was gonna be all right.

p.s. Please click pics for enhanced perusal.

p.p.s. I meant for this to be a Labor Day post, but my labors yesterday were happily redirected.

p.p.p.s. Where'd my baby go?

*Has great google potential.

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Oof. I have an almost 11 year-old, and a 9 year-old. I'm also working on a Masters in secondary ed so I can spend the rest of my life teaching 7th and 8th grade English/Language Arts. In Arizona. So now, after reading about your hair plastered to your brain at the end of the school year, I might want to just up and take a nap instead.
School started here in France yesterday. We're officially in elementary school now. I think it's a scary ride for the parents too, so at least you have an insider's knowledge to help you out.
We started last week...back to the special education dance. At least now, she's old enough to have an opinion on what works for her and what doesn't in class...but if you hear a very loud voice from up north screaming things like "dumb as a box of hammers" about certain school officials, please send a rescue party. I may need a massive w(h)ine intervention...
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