Friday, February 3, 2012

School's in: If there ever comes a day....

From "The House At Pooh Corner" by A.A.Milne (1928)

The kookaburras are laughing as I sit here at 9pm on the first night of our LGBB going to school. It's rare to hear them, certainly this late at night, round these parts. They're having a raucous good laugh.... at my expense, my paranoid ego wants to tell me.

See, here's the thing:  I thought I would have a cry in my heart after today. THE day. The big one that has been looming in my awareness for well over a year now. I put it off and put it off, imagining today. Kind of like anticipating something you want so much to come but you know it'll come with a cost. Come with some pain.

That is how I just naturally expected today to go. Scene:  me back in car, letting myself go into the cocoon of the vehicle cabin, possibly searching for something soppy to play on the radio as a fitting backdrop to my tears.

But no! Not a tear fell. Not even a "Oh my giddy Aunt, but they are SO gorgeous with their enormous shorts down to their shins and dresses down to their ankles, bless them all" blub of happiness (which I am oh so good at.... just ask the LGBB's kindy teacher from last year who pegged me as hopeless right from the first time - of many - that I stood and watched someone else's kid have show and tell and proceeded to cry uncontrollably just watching how proud they were with showing their favourite whatever to the captive audience).

Checking they got her name right

You see on the surface, today was surprise-free. I knew Lolly would breeze through that door, I had a feeling I'd get the briefest of hugs and then she would be on her way, back turned to me and her Dad. I expected I would feel a sense of loss (as with the closing of any long, important chapter) but I haven't. The day went off without a hitch. Lolly did give us a goodbye hug but it was a squeeze so warm and loving and bone-crushing that I knew she was ready to flap her wings and practice flying now.

Retrospectively looking back on it, and tucking the girl in to her bed tonight after a celebratory pizza feast, a foot massage with lavender oil and a tummy-winding exercise (that is... winding as in winding down, not anything to do with a breeze!) - which may not be to everyone's understanding or pleasure, but is our tried and true method of corterizing any remaining threads of connection to energies of the day that are not hers to to be troubled by or to own - I allowed myself to realise the profoundity of the day.

"Mum," she drearily said to me as she struggled to keep her eyes open while I rubbed her feet. "I think you should be a teacher."
"Actually, you even look like my teacher!" A compliment I will gladly take, given that her teacher is about fifteen years my junior and gorgeous to boot. I can't see it, personally, but who am I to disagree?

The Bag with its own postcode
We then had a chat about how what she really wanted was for me to work at the school so she could see me during the day sometimes.  "Well.... not all teachers work in schools, you know," I informed her. "Perhaps I could be a teacher anyway and just not work at a school." I like to get her thinking.

The conversation resolved itself when the LGBB decided she really did want to go to school but wished, at the same time, she could remain a little kid. "Forever." I told her tenderly that I remember having those exact wishes when I was not much older than her. The weight of responsibility and experience already upon my eleven year-old head felt too hard and I didn't want to grow up. It was impossible not to.

So today, I see now, while it was the beginning of the feeling of guilt-free days for the first time in five years (until school becomes a burdensome chore she drags her feet to get to each day and I somehow find a way to feel horrible and guilty about her having to be penned in by the institution while I am not), that this was a day of initiation for both of us.

As mother and daughter, our roles and expectations of each other are about to step up a notch. I hope she continues to be as patient and engaging with me as she has for her first years. Today I had to farewell the little girl, who was really not that little girl any more either but someone waiting in the wings. Waiting for the very moment Miss C opened the classroom door so that the children with the too-big uniforms could spill in to their new exciting space.

Just as the celebrant spoke of at Ellanor's memorial, this is a changing season - where we say goodbye, but also in many respects, it is a hello. A "welcome to your new world" for my Lolly. And I couldn't be more proud of how she began that new life today.

I know she won't always appreciate or even want to hear my imparting of wisdom.
I know one day she will not want me to come near her, let alone massage her, with lavender oil before bed time.
I know one day (sob) that Scrapsy will not get a guernsey as her best, best, bestest friend any more.
I know, once again, I have a daughter who is a child of the universe now. As she always was. And I am so deeply honoured. You know?

But I will always be boundary-keeping my daughter, for as long as there is a breath in me.

It's so brief. Really. She's grown me up a little more today. My little inner child is moping slightly but it won't for long. How can it (and what right does it have) when it sees this buoyant soul beaming back?

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together...
There is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is, even if we're apart...
I'll always be with you.”

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