Fall is about change. The whole world of seasons is exuberant, seeds and sprouts unearthed. While we drift out of October and gaze into November, my heartstrings are being pulled, yanked, and snipped. There is change. Let’s be more dramatic and call it upheaval.
Bottom line: my son will no longer go to school. Not just any school (is there such a thing, anyway, as a school being some nondescript place, perhaps only to an out-of-touch, insensitive parent?). This is the school our seven-year-old daughter practically founded. (Okay, too dramatic). Well, she started there as a baby. I placed her with kind teachers who calmed my mother nerves and still-nursing skin. She began just before crawling. We have history.
This is the community who folded me in with them and my children, helping me to see that I could make a life, that I could make being a mom in such a foreign place work. I grew there alongside my babies.
It is at this school, our boy, now age 4.5, he began taking in a broader world and social life. He was a chubby darling, about one-year-old, and I penned his name in Japanese across the bum of every diaper. (daughter, too). I learned to write out the basics of what he ate, when he filled a diaper, how long he slept, etc.
This place which he can no longer attend is the place his big sister graduated from before she began first-grade. I dressed in kimono and brought each fancy white-toed foot to the entrance where we took pictures as a family. I cried of course and stashed tissues in my wide, droopy kimono sleeves. I partied with mothers there, ached with them as our babies left on the colossal charter bus to pick sweet potatoes.
See how I am aching my own sweet aches? As a mother, it is the layered totality of experience, of ours, of our babies, of all of the ways our tips touch and make new colors. I grieve this now.
This is the boy who names festival goldfish for the best friends in his class and knows the fish apart. He talks about his teachers at length, in tones that honor. This baby is big, cheeks less fleshy, and his legs sure are speedy. He cannot go to school with his friends and I need to be okay with that–for a little while, perhaps. Or a great long while. I don’t know.
November is mean. It’s cold to me. It’s “enjoy this now because your warmth is fleeting.” We have but two days at his school this week–Monday, Tuesday, then “so long, Charlie”. Even to my sweet Jude.
I must be positive. I will need to make us warm and bake cookies with broad chocolate chunks and remember to buy bread. He will no longer eat that delicious pre-school lunch (the aroma from the kitchen when I drop him off in the morning!!). Not that wonderful balance of flavor and health from Japanese school lunch and snacks, but just me! Just me for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Just me in every prominent role until Dad gets home.
And I will have to make some marvellous changes. I shall have to go from brown, mottled pidgeon to beguiling, inspiring peacock. Or pink flamingo or fierce, fast hawk. I shall have to plan every lesson, scramble and scrape for friends of his weekday. I shall have to be my best parenting and best teacher self in one, every day. I am suddenly a homeschool mom. His success and languishing between languages will squarely come down to me.
I want the flutter of inspiration and promise of making headway.
Most of all, more than my grief, much more than anxiety or hope, I want for us, resilience and the joy of something gorgeous and doable around the corner. I want us to feel warm. I’d also love to teach the boy to read, count, and love science and poetry.
It seems his education is now, more than ever, a matter of heart.