Many friends and family have asked me how school is going so far for Calum and Faye, but what I really want to tell them about is how school is going so far for me. It’s Pre-K and nursery school, people. The song-singing, play time and coloring have been treating the kids just fine, thanks. For me, on the other hand, school has been “double rainbow all the way”. When I get home from drop-off, I paint my face blue and white in a tribute to William Wallace and my favorite movie, Braveheart,and I drop to my knees in the middle of our living room and scream, from the top of my lungs until my breath runs out, “FREEEEEDOMMMMMMM!”
In fact, in a blissful haze, I dropped off both kids this morning, and Faye is not even signed up for school on Mondays! I was so excited for the school week to resume, that I didn’t even realize until halfway through my car dance party on the way home that she wasn’t supposed to go to school today! Shit. Oops. Oh well. The school director is amazing and had already emailed me to let me know she would add Faye on for a fifth morning this week. Sometimes things just work out.
School has truly been great for everyone. As much as it skeeves me out to see the kids come home covered in playground sand, it simultaneously makes me excited like Old Saint Nick touching down on the whoopee pie house. For the first time in almost two years, they have somewhere to be and something constructive to be doing, and the onus is not on me to provide it. My cup is filled up at the thought of the social interactions and the small, yet transformative lessons learned at school.
Faye is in school four (sometimes five, wink wink) mornings a week, and was placed in the classroom that Calum was in when he was diagnosed and had to leave halfway through the year. Bringing Faye back to that same classroom with the same wonderful teachers has felt like a second chance in so many ways. After Calum left school, I frequently wondered how the end of that year would have turned out and what relationships would be formed and how much school would change him in a year. Now, I get to see it all play out through the joy of watching Faye, though she will clearly do it her own wonderous way.
Calum is now with the “big kids on campus”. Tuesdays and Thursdays he goes for a half day, but Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays he goes to school…wait for it…FOR A FULL DAY. It’s bizarre and quiet, and also totally “whoopee pie house”. He has loved his time at school and his teachers are very special. This morning at drop-off he was hesitant to leave me, and his teacher rushed over to the car to hug him and ask about his t-shirt and his weekend and, within the blink of an eye, he’d forgotten about me and was en route to playground. When he got home this afternoon he sang me what seemed like a ten-verse song about the days of the week. Maybe this is the first step towards him harnessing his grasp on time, and finally not asking me about what happened “last day the other year when it was snowing” and other gobbledygook I can’t possibly begin to answer.
Even though I have been with my kids more than most due to our circumstances, I’m not the kind of mom who needs to be with their kids every day. Just having this first week underway has allowed me to breathe easier in life. I feel like I have a little space to think and focus and not feel guilty for looking at my phone for the first time in a very, very long time. Even though Calum will inevitably be exposed to more viruses, more fevers and potentially have treatment delays or hospital stays, Calum is turning five this year and he needs more socialization and activity. He needs an outlet, and we have made the cautious and calculated decision to let him back in school.
Despite my jokes earlier, when most people ask me about how school is going, they do actually also ask about how it makes me feel and if I have been nervous. Though there will be more illnesses and fever-related hospital visits, that is not the part that truly unnerves me. Those things will require more care and will require me to be ready at any time to take him to the hospital, but I feel emotionally equipped for that task and, most importantly, I feel that Calum will ultimately be totally healthy. The part about going back to school that scares me most, oddly, is becoming comfortable with life getting easier. After just one week of school, I feel myself slipping back into normalcy. To slip back into that old feeling of living life without my guard-up every day is terrifying. The thought of being caught off-guard again like I was in December 2016 is, to be sure, terrifying.
Sometimes in life it seems like a lot of bad news comes at once, you know, “when it rains it pours”, and, lately, I have heard a lot of bad news. It scares me to hear about bad things happening. It is sad, emotional and a reminder that we’re never truly safe. There is no allotted amount of bad luck one can get in life, but, as my mother once reminded me, on the much, much brighter contrary, there is also no allotted amount of good luck available to us. Feeling scared about what could happen in life is such a terribly toxic way to live. Mike, Faye, Calum and I are doing great and, right now, I am going to heed my own advice and appreciate every blessing I am handed, every day. We are SO lucky, and I am so excited for the endless morning tributes to Braveheart that await.