Today's Image
Be Gentle

When I was in college, studying music and composing, the simile was bandied about quite a bit between me and my classmates that presenting a new piece of our music was like having a baby and showing it off to the world, hoping everybody would be kind and love it as much as we did. It was a nerve-wracking scene every time.

I don't know why it took me so long to make the next logical leap: having a child is like having a new piece of music being presented to the world at all times. It's knuckle-biting, stomach-clenching, terrifying to send your kid out there, hoping that everybody with whom he comes into contact will understand him, be gentle with him, love him, not hurt him. As I felt with my compositions, I feel sometimes like I'm sitting on the edge of my seat, struggling not to stand up and shout, "Don't you get it? Don't you see that this one is special? Can't you hear what I hear?"

Crappy school pictureWe had Sam's parent-teacher conference yesterday, and, thankfully, Sam's current teacher is somebody who does seem to hear what I hear, or is at least tactful enough to pretend that she does. Over and over, I heard variations on the theme that Sam is ahead of the curve: "...for the kids like Sam, who need to be challenged more..." or "...he gets a little bored with this, so we're trying..." Unfortunately in some ways, his boredom is manifesting occasionally in ways that, if I stretch my memory back hard enough, I can almost remember experiencing personally. He can count to a hundred, of course, but he lost interest at thirty-nine; he hates studiously coloring in pre-drawn pictures, so he hurriedly scribbles over the whole page so he can just be done with the task.

I found out that the kindergarten class was tested for giftedness last week. No idea what the results of that will be, though the teacher said she thought he did very well; she did say that she had to move him near the end of the test, because he started looking at his neighbor's paper, "and he was doing much better himself than he would have done if he'd decided to copy." He can barely remember (or choose to remember, as the case may be) what the test involved at this point, so I'm left in the dust now.

I don't know, as I've said in the past, if Sam's gifted; I wouldn't presume to have the kind of detachment necessary to make that assessment myself. I know he's bright, and his teacher seems to agree, but...well, who knows? But to have missed knowing that the test was even happening, I feel now like I had yet another composition presented and I wasn't even in the audience. Now I'm waiting for the reviews, and I have no clue at all about how they'll read.

I don't even know what will happen based on how he did on the test. If he scored high enough, he'll be offered a chance to attend the magnet school for gifted kids starting next year. It's a great school, but, then, so is the one he's attending now. There's no huge difference in distance (perhaps the gifted school is a smidge closer), so I can't even use the amount of bus time required as a reason for or against switching. Sam will, I'm sure, say he wants to stay at his current school, but is this the sort of decision we can make based primarily on kindergarten friendships? The gifted school is in a much nicer building, seems to get more funding, has more extracurricular activities...and it would certainly offer the "challenge" to Sam that his teacher says he needs.

Whatchu lookin at?But it's craziness to fret about this without even knowing if it will be an issue. Getting worked up without knowing how he performed on the test is the worst sort of borrowing troubles. Does that stop me? The stomachache I gave myself last night, now persisting into the morning, seems to indicate otherwise. I'm usually very good about brushing away worries about myself and my own troubles, at least temporarily (the month of March notwithstanding), but when it comes to my kids, it seems that it's another ballgame (or concert, to continue the analogy).

There are so many things about which a parent can worry. Will my child grow and develop well? Why won't he sleep? Will she meet her milestones on time? Why isn't he rolling over yet? Her kid is walking; why isn't mine? Why does she have trouble making friends? What if he tumbles off that slide and breaks a bone? I know she's smart, so why are her grades so low? He seems so sad; is it something I'm doing wrong? How do I keep her safe from bullies? How do I keep his mind off girls? Will she get into the right college? Will he follow our faith? Is she happy?

It was just so much easier when they were safe in my womb, and all I had to worry about was keeping them in there.

And then there are the moments of peace when all is right. Two nights ago, I put the kids down to sleep, then came downstairs to drink a cup of tea out on the back porch (more on that in a moment). Noises at night when Eric's not here make me jumpy, but I was working hard to relaxing (an interesting balance), so I tried not to jump out of my seat at the few thumps I occasionally heard. "Could be car doors," I mused, "or the heater kicking on."

After a bit, I went back inside and upstairs, and I saw this:

Boys in a bed

Sam sleepwalks at night; it's really rather creepy on occasion. Once, I found him standing silently in the closet of the playroom, holding a toy and staring with glazed eyes at the wall. Usually, he wanders into our room, where Eric just tucks him into our bed under his arm. Apparently, this time he decided to sleep walk into his brother's bed.

I wondered whether I ought to move him, since there were even odds that when Gabe awoke at around two in the morning, he would become incensed at finding Sam in his bed (he has very strict rules about that, even when I lay them both there at the beginning of the evening for stories), but I opted to leave him there to avoid waking either boy. In the end, I'm not sure Gabe even realized he was there when he woke and crawled out of bed in search of me.

My cousin has five children, and she frequently takes pictures of them all tumbled into a sleeping pile in one bed, facing this way and that, like a litter of puppies. It was a nice surprise to find my own kids enjoying a snooze together like that, whether they were conscious of getting there or not.

I was outside with my tea, as I said, enjoying the newly warm(ish) weather. Warm in Wisconsin terms, I guess I should say. Not witch's teat-like. No snowballs were harmed in the making of said tea.

LanternI had my camera, too, because Sam and I had just hung several solar lanterns by my lilac bushes. They made a spooky sight, glowing with a blue haze as they dangled a foot above the ground. I wish I could have captured the sight better with my camera, but it was tricky; using the flash illuminated the scene, but made it look rather like daytime and didn't show the blue glow. Going without the flash, on the other hand, made for a very fuzzy blue dot on a field of black. I experimented with aperature size and shutter speed, and I got closer to what I wanted, but not enough to satisfy.

We live far enough from downtown that it's fairly quiet in our neighborhood, but we're close enough to some main thoroughfares that I occasionally get surprised at the sort of critters I see wandering close to my house. Of course, that implies that I can actually tell what I'm seeing; I have to turn off the lights in order to coax anything out, and then I can't really tell if I'm seeing anything other than a very large house cat (and I'm a big chicken who runs inside when the shadows get too close). Thought I saw something bigger that night, though: possum? It was up on the fence between yards.

Footprints are more fun. I could almost think a dog was back there recently; there were some interesting paw prints in the would-be garden from last year. Maybe I'll give nighttime photography another go soon to try to capture our nighttime visitors.

previous one year ago:
I mean, it's not every day that you find out that you had half the guys in high school following you into the instrument closet.
two years ago:
The thought that Mommy was once small is a little jarring to him, and he can't quite fathom it for truth.
three years ago:
Lately, I've been allowing him to pick out his own outfits. Sometimes that leads to rather..."festive" ensembles.
four years ago:
I fancy myself a good, if not great, baker, and yet I've never been able to make a successful pie.
five years ago:
When the big boys staged elaborate train wrecks, he laughed and shook until it seemed he had to fall down. He never did.
six years ago:
Later, when one patron was exceedingly rude to me over the telephone, I got so angry that I stuck my tongue out at the phone and then fumed for ten minutes
seven years ago:
Perhaps if I'd liked what I saw in the mirror every morning, or even some mornings, I'd have been more able to choose a boyfriend who suited me.
In the ears:

On the Bookshelf:

Photos, old and new,
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©1999-2006 C. Richmond.