Transitions and Conversations

Next fall three of my four kids are transitioning into new schools. I knew that would require extra focus and emotional energy. I just wasn’t expecting it to begin hitting in March, but it does. Of course it does, because March is when the kids pick their classes, choosing the shape of the school year to come. It is when we have orientation and transition assemblies. It is when everyone looks ahead and begins to understand exactly how different next year is going to be. Apparently March is also when the youngest sibling, the one who is not transitioning, the one who gets left behind, also realizes that life will be changing. The three in transition have things to look forward to as well as things to fear. The youngest just knows that life will march forward without regard to his personal readiness for the changes.

I sat with Kiki while she cried about leaving. I hugged her and told her how I cried for two days last fall because it felt like the beginning of the end. Then I told her about all the fun things I’m looking forward to for her and with her.

I sit with Link in a dozen quiet conversations where we talk about how things are different in high school, about classes yet to come, and about why boys tease the girls they like. Link still doesn’t get that last one. “Mom, if you like a girl, you be nice to her and give her flowers. Teasing her isn’t nice.” Link sometimes seems younger than his peers, but inside he is so much older.

I hold Gleek tight when she is scared, when the world gets to be too much. Then, when the fears have passed, we talk about where they come from and how to manage them. I sat with her on the bench last Sunday, after everyone else had left the chapel. I told her that her fears are bigger than they should be, that her teacher and I are working together to try to help her, and that she’ll be going to some new doctors who may be able to help as well. She took it calmly, almost relieved.

I snuggle with Patch at his bedtime while he cried about Kiki leaving. He connected it with his friends who moved away and how–even though he still sees these friends–it is not the same as when they lived next door. I could not offer happy rewards that will come after his sister leaves. All I could do was say that he had every right to feel sad.

I sit in our front room with its new chairs, across from Howard. We talk about his recent visit to the doctor. We spectate his depression and the effects that medication has on those moods. We also talk about how the depressions affect him, affect our kids, affect me. The depression is not new in our lives, but these conversations are. We’re sorting, learning, and things are getting better. It feels strange to say that, because they felt good before, we were fine, but apparently better is possible and we would be foolish not to reach for it.

I open my laptop to read the internet. I stare at the blog post box, it is empty and my head is full. It seems that I ought to adjust that balance by putting some of my thoughts into words. There is no time. My days an evenings are thing after thing. They only pauses I get are spent on eating, sleeping, or finding an escape in fiction. Not my fiction, which would require emotion from me that I don’t have to spare, but the fiction of others.

I meet with teachers, meeting after meeting. We talk options and concerns. I listen, not just to the teacher, but also for sparks of inspiration, pieces of direction from which we can formulate a plan. They come. “Here is what we’ll do.” I say. Then I ask the teachers to check planners, to love and observe at school, to let me know what they see. I promise to talk at home, to track homework and make sure it is done, to insure good sleep, to provide a solid breakfast. They are small changes, things I should have been doing anyway that got lost in the shuffle. They may be enough. We hope they’ll be enough. So we agree to meet again in a week to compare notes again.

I sit on my porch in the sunshine, so very grateful for the sixty degree weather. It draws the children outside. They run and play, getting fresh air and exercise. I am glad, because I know that the lack of these things was part of the problem. I promise myself that next winter I’ll do a better job of making sure they get exercise. I hope I remember to follow through.

I sit at restaurants with a friend across the table; more than one restaurant, more than one friend. We talk and I spill all the worries in my heart. Because I know I am carrying too much. I have to carry it all and the only way I can hope to continue is to make sure that I do not ignore the signs of strain in my heart and body. I have friends to support me. I eat on schedule. I sleep when I can. And I know that transition does not last forever. Six weeks from now these transitions will have settled out. It may not even be six weeks. Next week might be more reasonable. I can continue until then.

1 thought on “Transitions and Conversations”

  1. I’m the youngest in my family, and I remember when my oldest brother was leaving for college. We sat on the porch swing and I cried as I told him that I was going to miss him. He put his arm around me and told me that we’d still see each other and we’d still have fun, but it would just be different. His words didn’t necessarily help me feel better, but I think that having that conversation with him helped me find more peace with the transition.

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