One of the best poems I’ve ever read was written by some weird guy in my high school (I inevitably had a helpless crush on him) and was submitted to our school’s Literary Magazine. I was a hopeless member of the staff because then, and even now, I cannot seem to find the negatives in art and writing. I can’t. I can look at my own photographs and see a million things technically “wrong” but I can’t seem to read your writing and tell you what’s wrong with it. I just can’t seem to do it. Don’t ask me!
Unless you’re hiring editors, in which case, ask me.
This particular poem was about the process of becoming a butterfly, but as a human. It’s about realizing, “Hey, I’ve changed. It kind of hurts and it’s kind of amazing. I am the butterfly too. It’s not just her. It’s not just him. It’s me too. How cool.”
Lately I get tears in my eyes whenever I speak about Scarlet. It’s my way. I prefer it to nervous nausea and I prefer it to anger. It’s when I speak about the good and it’s when I speak about the bad – like other kids in class being mean in ways that wouldn’t ever occur to my daughter. She really is made of light and love, and a hearty dose of normal, school-age brattiness. That’s ok too. Sometimes I have to leave the school playground, even when things are peachy and she’s got her legs swinging to the sky, while being pushed by a loving teacher. I have to leave because that’s ending. And when I do see her playing alone or being a victim of mean words, or doling out the mean words, which happens, I have to leave then because that’s something beginning.
I’ve made it no secret that her transition to kindergarten experience is affecting me so much more because of where I was at her age – my father having been gone a year, and on the brink of having a new home, new siblings, new school, and a new dad whose voice is so deep I thought he was James Earl Jones. And I’ve made it only a secret to her how much I sometimes struggle, because my story is not her story, my pain is not her pain, and I will not take away a shred of this experience from her. I won’t.
Last week we had kindergarten orientation. I was nervous. I didn’t even eat breakfast which usually only happens if I’m afraid that something is so scary or heady that there’s even a chance I might lose my breakfast. Which is not what happens and not what I thought, but I was nervous! In that way that I didn’t feel completely safe, but I did feel like I was in a safe space. On the three minute drive there, Scarlet confessed that she was feeling a little scared. I told her that I get scared for a lot of things too, like photo jobs, writing jobs and blog conferences. I told her I was going to a Blogging School (BlogU) soon and that I was very scared. And I told her I got scared as a mother too. She said, “Of all of your jobs, being Mama is my favorite.” Me too, kid.
Then we got there. We were on the later side and they were already lining up. She held me near. I was holding Des too. They called her name and she looked up at me with tears and said she was too scared. Her friend was called next and I walked her over to hold hands with him to go to the classroom together. He was all, “Girls are yucky” about holding hands but it calmed her down. Like a true pro, the kindergarten teacher swept her into the classroom. The rest of us went to the library to meet the principal and other staff members. Des sat silently on my lap and even said, “I love you, Mama” in the middle of the meeting.
There were tears, but they weren’t mine. We went on a full tour of the school and then came back and the principal read us a book called, “Scaredy Squirrel.” Then our pre-kindergarteners came back. Scarlet seemed happy. The kindergarten teacher told me she had done great and even made friends. Then we all had snacks in the library and got in the car. I suggested we FaceTime Cassidy and Scarlet was very excited. I got to hear her tell him that the experience was awesome. There was a popcorn kernel craft with her name on it that she wanted to hang on her bed at home. I then asked her where she wanted to go to celebrate.
You know what she said, right?
If you guessed cookie store, then you are correct!
And it was good. Really good.
If you’re thinking you’re seeing snow in the background of some of these photos, don’t worry – it doesn’t snow in June in MA. (I think?) These photos are from March and I’m playing catchup. The dancing/fairy/butterfly theme is too good to resist.
And I’m delighted by these photos, and by the kid in them.
She’s got rhythm too.
And glee, joy and delight.
Her brother has it too, even though he was sick back when these photos were taken.
The sun..can be bewildering..when it’s late March and you’re only one. You just don’t remember last summer, do you?
The dog seems to find unspeakable joy in her days too. Good fit, this one.
I don’t often feel like a butterfly, or at least not a permanent one. I think I go in and out of cocoons throughout life, and really that’s ok. I’m ok being a temporary butterfly if it means I’ll soar in vivid color every now and then. Just to feel it.
Just to be it.