Thursday, March 24, 2011


Three days a week, Berit and Marta go to school.
They start at 9:30 or 10 a.m., and I pick Marta up at 1. Berit stays for preschool, which lets out at 3. I feel like that's a really long day for both of them.
I originally had intended to only send Marta, who was desperate to be like her big sis and go to school, for two hours two days a week. But every time I arrived to pick her up, she begged to stay. So now we're at three or four hours, three days a week. It's nice for me, because I've jump-started my writing career and now can handle a few magazine deadlines a month, plus some fun writing just because. 

But I still worry. I worry that they're having a hard time, that they're missing me, missing our routines. I know, when I let myself go there, that with their many hours at school the routines are actually coming from there. That I'm the one changing things around. 

When they're home they play so well together (most of the time). They make up elaborate games and stories and shows. They go on for hours. I feel like they each have a little cloud of numbers and letters and magic happening over their heads when they do this - like inspiration is just following them everywhere, like their minds are switched onto Creative Play. I know this is a byproduct of school, with their ages and abilities as part of the recipe. 

Yesterday I had food poisoning and was in bed all day. Trevor stepped in and somehow made lunches, got them to school and home, made dinner (Dora Soup, YAY!) and got them to bed, all while fielding his own calls and meetings. When I hobbled downstairs at night, so I could watch TV while listening to the monitors because he had gone out to finish working, I realized that while he might qualify for Sainthood based on his care-taking role, he would not be elected Housekeeper Of The Year. The entire house was a MESS. Food everywhere, dirty clothes, dust bunnies (which I attack daily), school stuff, toys, everything, everything. 

Of course I didn't mind. Thank God he can stay home when needed. Thank God he's such a good dad and husband. I don't mind cleaning up after him, or them.

But I knew what today would hold: Dishes, laundry, mopping, bathrooms, sterilization. So I said, "Kids, would you rather stay home with Mommy today or go to school?" And when they cried "SCHOOL!" I was both a little hurt and a little happy. I'm glad they have a place that they love and where they thrive. But can it possibly be as fun as me?
While dropping them off today I hung out a bit, talking to their teacher. She and I chatted and the kids evolved to two sides of the room - Berit and three others to a shelf of toys, where they built stuff and made up games. Marta and four kids went to a more open area and set up chairs. The teacher, Ms. Jamie, said, "Now watch this. This is something they came up with entirely on their own, and they do it every day." The kids took turns standing in front of the others, sitting in their chairs, which were lined up next to one another. The kid in front did something - pretended to give each one a check-up with the doctor kit, danced, read a book, etc. And the others participated, listened, watched. Ms. Jamie said that sometimes they called it Book Club, sometimes it was Show. 
I thought about what we would have done today at home together - of course we would have played, but there would never have been this group of kids, using their minds and with great big smiles for one another, encouraging this creativity. What a charm, what a delight to be a part of. I felt really, really lucky for them, and for us as a family. And I did not feel so sorry to leave them there today, as I left with kisses and big smiles and waves, and requests to stay a little longer this one day.

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