Soon I’ll post an ode to Michelle, Preschool Director from Heaven. Because neither of us is good at good-byes.
Tomorrow will be my boy’s last day at preschool. I am way more unprepared for this than he is.
Four months ago I wrote, of this window, and the changing view it affords:
now, whenever I do drop him off (as I did this morning; a once-weekly gift to myself and him, baby steps toward balance), it’s me who lingers on the sidewalk looking back at the empty window where once, not even six months ago, he would blow kisses, gesture hugs, and bravely wave goodbye.
It was only a heartbeat before that that I was called back to this house by the angel-from-heaven preschool director to fetch my older daughter: she was just too inconsolable, midmorning her first morning there. Of course things changed; she adapted, and grew. Eventually it was her brave face at this window, waving goodbye. Then his. After tomorrow, it will be neither: just this photograph, and when we walk or drive by, other tender faces at the beginning of a journey, peering out at both their past and their future.
Dusk, the crepuscular hour, the gloaming. Gentle, delicious. I am laying in the post-day, pre-sleep moments with my son, now five. My daughter is downstairs with her Mama, listening to chapter seven of C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.
It is balmy out for a late May Berkeley–67 degrees–and a light breeze fingers the curtains open and shut. They’re home-made, these curtains: someone we can’t remember brought a sarape to sit on during one of our family’s back yard puppet shows some years back, and left it. We put the word out, but no one claimed it, and as sometimes can happen with forgotten sarapes, our kids’ grandmother stitched bedroom curtains out of them.
Through the open window float the sounds of folks talking as they walk up the street below; an occasional car swooshes by. A car door slams and by his voice, I hear my brother-in-law has come home; as he talks to his son, he pulls the garbage and recycling cans off the street where I had left them in my haste to make it home to dinner with the kids. We each live in houses on the same large lot in the center of the city; we share a vegetable garden and the abundant outdoor garden and play space, we share childcare and grocery shopping, a mortgage, and garbage can duties. He takes the cans to the curb, I bring them back. Except that since I began working full-time, I can never bring myself to lose a minute’s evening time with my children still awake, so I usually retrieve the cans long after they’re in bed.
Tonight, as he often does, he has brought them in for me.
A small passenger plane passes overhead; robins, finches, sparrows, and California Towhees sing the sun down, fewer and fewer with each passing minute.
Buddha Cole, Lucy’s room, Sherman Oaks, CA.
Flying Cole, Lucy’s room, Sherman Oaks, CA.
A four-way match made not in heaven, but in an old friendship. The mamas of all these kids met in 1989, as apprentices at The Children’s Theater in Minneapolis. Then on to New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse, where one of them met the man who’d become half these kids’ papa. Old friends’ kids, friends. Nothing quite like it.