I was told that the “Terrible Twos” were actually the “Treacherous Threes.” I was told that by four, all of that toddler angst would smooth out into calm seas..into..what? Preteen or teenage-hood? Sounds fishy to me. Three didn’t end very easily.
And four didn’t begin very easily.
We have a lot of arguments. We’ve been somewhat grumpy together, as summer has winded down. And then on Sunday night, the eve of her first day back at school, she took my face in her hands and said simply, “I love you. I love your heart.”
It was like a record screeching to a halt. I instantly regretted every time I have ignored her or talked to her through gritted teeth. There has been a summer full of those moments. There has also been a summer full of parties and road trips, tiaras and surprises. We grow apart for weeks at time, and then come back together stronger than ever. Repeat. Over and over again.
I’ve been downplaying the potential for emotions for this year’s back-to-school.
For one, it hasn’t seemed as momentous as last year’s first day of the first year of school. And it hasn’t seemed as momentous as next year’s kindergarten will be, which I honestly just don’t think about often. I know kindergarten isn’t college. I know my grandmother has a 65-year-old kid. Yeah, yeah. Either way, it’s momentous to me. I’m realizing that every year is and will be.
Scarlet is starting her second year of preschool. Des still has two years until his first year of preschool. It’s a bit of a comfortable place. Same situation as last year at the same time. A lot of the same people and some of the same teachers. Similar routines and schedules. And yet, it’s not the same. I figured that out last week at the preschool back-to-school potluck. There are new faces and some of the old ones have gone on to other schools. Mainly, Scarlet is different. She is not the same girl she was last year at the same time. I am not the same mom I was last year at this same time. We have grown more than we have changed.
I dig that.
So I present to you, Scarlet on the first day of school – being photobombed by her brother. Let me just tell you – I did not make a big production out of morning photos. I used up most of my energy making a heart-shaped cheese and hummus sandwich for her lunch. I used up the remaning energy not feeling very well, and having to wrestle Des into clothes and then the car as well.
So I took just one photo.
And it made me laugh. On the way to school, I grilled her with a few questions the way I see people do all the time with back-to-school interviews. My questions are in bold. Her answers follow.
1. What was your favorite thing about school last year?
2. What are you looking forward to the most this school year?
Snack. And lunch. And art.
3. What do you want to be when you grow up?
4. Nicely done, there! What’s your favorite TV show?
No, it isn’t! It’s Sofia the First!
Well you asked ME, didn’t you? It’s both.
You haven’t seen Caillou in over a year!
I still love it. Maybe you should download it for me. How about that?
5. Moving on…what is your favorite song?
No, I mean – what is your favorite song to song with in the car?
No, I mean. YOUR favorite song is “Pumped Up Kicks, ok?”
Itsy Bitsy Spider.
6. What would you tell Des if he was starting school today and he was nervous? How would you comfort him?
I would say, “Des, it’s ok. It’s school. It’s fun.”
And so, she began school and I began my first day with just Des.
I don’t know if I’m ready to say goodbye, but there she is, and here I am. We said, “See you later.” I have Des to hug (for as long as he’ll let me anyway), and I have Scarlet to pick up in only four hours, and I have the wonderful knowledge that she loves me.
And she loves my heart.
Scarlet, September 2009:
I love her heart too.