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Fresh Starts, New Worries

My kids start school on the first of September.  (Well, Quinn starts a little later because the school staggers the start dates for the different levels of kindergarteners.)  I’m not ready to give up sleeping in in the mornings, but I am ready for my kids to have a little more structure.  Or maybe I’m the one ready for a little more structure.  Either way we are gearing up for a new routine and I think it will be interesting.

The oddest thing for us to adjust to this year is that all three of my kids have new teachers.  This is not unusual for most people, but my kids attend a public Montessori school, and in Montessori education you stay in one classroom for three years.  Aden is moving up from her first/second/third grade room, to a new class for fourth/fifth/sixth grade.  We found out just this past week that she got the teacher we were hoping for, which is a big deal since that’s a person we will be working with into 2014.

But Quinn and Mona have new teachers as well, even though they are staying in the same rooms as last year.  Quinn’s teacher retired, and Mona’s teacher moved, and both replacements are new to the school.  I have high hopes for the new teachers, and think it will be an exciting change for my kids.  We’ll find out soon.

Aden is looking forward to being reunited with her friends on a daily basis instead of being at the mercy of the ability and willingness of grown-ups to arrange play dates, but she is dreading homework.  Mona is simply excited.  She loves school, and has already constructed a fresh cup o’ snakes to bring on the first day and share with her classmates.

Quinn, I’m hoping, will finally feel comfortable enough to really explore what school has to offer him.  K3 was a big adjustment (as it was for my girls, too) and he’s a shy and private person.  He’s already reading at about a first grade level (or at least what I’m assuming is a first grade level since he can read everything his sister can), he loves to print and write in cursive, and he will sit at the dry erase board and add columns of numbers all day long if we let him, so you’d think there would be no one better cut out for school than Quinn.  I figured Montessori would be a perfect fit since lessons are taught to individual kids instead of the group, and he can move ahead academically at whatever pace is appropriate.  But Montessori is also child directed, and Quinn is not aggressive about what he wants to do.  He spent a long time scooping rice from one bowl to another along with the other K3′s last year and then coming home and saying school was boring.  I asked the teacher to offer Quinn higher level work instead of waiting for him to ask for it, and he did do some cute little books with drawings which I adore, but I’m not convinced he finds school interesting.  But he’s only four so I’m not going to worry about that much.

All my worries at the moment are with my parents.  My dad suffered serious health issues at the end of last year, he’s been doing chemo since he returned from the hospital, and after this last course of treatment recently took a turn for the worse.  As luck would have it, my brother, who lived with my parents for over a month to assist in dad’s care earlier this year, happened to be visiting just as dad needed to go to the emergency room.  He’s keeping us up to date with news as he gets it.

In the meantime I am wrapping up as much as I can at the violin store and we did our school supply shopping.  I have a bag packed in case I’m needed back in Michigan.  Or if I just need to be back in Michigan.  If it comes down to it, other people can run the store for a bit and the world will keep turning if I don’t get to take pictures of my kids on the first day of school.  I’m still going on the assumption that despite the setbacks and the realities of stage four cancer, things will be fine.  Because I need my dad and I have to believe that.

It does put life in perspective, when something serious enough arises to make things that looked like worries yesterday not qualify as worries today.  I keep thinking about the school photo dad showed me on my last visit, of himself as a boy looking sweet and proud in the group of New York schoolchildren gathered outside his elementary school.   The mystery of life to me lies in the ways in which so much is both unique and at the same time universal.  My dad was once the child collecting supplies for the new school year.  Then it was me.  Now it’s my children.  To be standing in this middle ground of life, looking at one end of the journey embodied by my children, and the other end by my father, is humbling, and scary, and thrilling, and sad.  I want love without loss, but life doesn’t work that way.  The best I can do is accept it, and pack my bag.

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