“So is Patch your youngest?” his new teacher asked. She’d pulled me aside at back to school night for a moment of quiet conversation.
“Yes. He’s the last of my kids you have to deal with.” I said with a tone of voice and a smile that turned it into a joke. Sort of. I thought about it afterward, wondering where the words had come from. I mean them in the moment I spoke them. I was apologizing for inflicting my children and their individualized bags of challenges upon her. The other thing I said to her, which I’ve thought hard about later was “Don’t worry. Patch isn’t like Gleek.” I wanted to reassure her, because she is the teacher who helped me with Gleek’s lowest and darkest moments during her sixth grade year. It is hard for me to picture her facing another child of mine with anything but trepidation. Because that year was hard on all of us and this teacher was on the daily front lines.
I have to stop apologizing for my children. Their existence needs no apology, even if they create troubles for others. I also have to stop trying to reassure the school staff that Patch is not Gleek. The comparison only reminds everyone about the difficulty and it is unfair to Patch. That difficult year is done and I am the only one who has brought it up. I have to let it go. This is Patch’s year. I need to let it be as easy or as difficult as it is without comparison to anything else. It looms so large in my mind that I am still reacting to it and I need to stop.
“Are there any states that don’t have g in them?” Gleek asked before realizing it was a silly question.
“How do I tell if a function is odd or even?” asked Link.
Patch did not ask any questions. He just scratched his pencil across pages, getting the work done. All three kids sat in the kitchen during the same hour and did homework. It was an event stunning because of the lack of conflict. Yes, they distracted each other with random out-loud exclamations, but the work got done. I don’t know if this will become the pattern for the school year. Usually I have to separate them because distractions lead to stress and arguments. But it was lovely for today.
The email was titled “The List.” It was things that Kiki needs for school which failed to make the trip with her. Heading the list is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Apparently this is a college must-have for her group of geek-girl roommates and friends. Most of the other things are small items, things which can go into the package along with the DVD sets. I don’t mind. I like hearing that she’s happy and has fun plans with her friends.
I tore through my list of things to do, eliminating items quickly. Having five uninterrupted hours makes a huge difference in my work day. I didn’t feel it last week, there was too much going on emotionally for me to work calmly. This week feels calm in comparison. I’ll take it.