Photo: Are these little dudes ready for school? Good thing little Ursa Minor’s first day isn’t until next week… There was no way I was going to tell that kid he couldn’t bring his backpack anyway. It all worked out…
Both boys went to school today–the eldest for his second day of school, the youngest for his “orientation.” We stuck around for the entire school day so that Ursa Minor could really get to know his school and, I’d hoped, he would really run himself ragged and get a good nap in. I had a lot of fun getting to spy on both of them learning and playing today, and I was heartened to see that they are both going to be fine, follow the rules, and place nicely with others when I drop them off in the mornings.
Of course, as I observed Ursa Major march into school with his new-found “big kid” friends from the playground to the school, my brain got to working. The untrained eye would have seen twenty White children happily walking into school. I saw differently, as I always do: 19 White children and my Brown son walking into school. The doubts and concerns came flooding back to me. Had I made the right decision in re-enrolling him in such a school? Is it a burden to make him the only color walking in his school?
I tucked those thoughts away when my child smiled and waved at me from the line. He’s happy. He’s growing. He’s healthy. He’s learning. These are the requirements for having a great preschool experience. These are the years when his only job in the world is to have fun. Stop thinking so damn hard all the time.
Ursa Minor was in my arms at the moment when his older brother waved from the line. We were standing outside waiting for the big kids to pass so that we could go inside for orientation. I wish you could have seen the longing in his eyes as he watched his brother. I think there was a combination of jealousy and awe–like, wow, look what he gets to do that. I want to do that so badly. And when it was his turn to go to the playroom, he didn’t waste a second. He sampled every little play area, interacted with each of his classmates at least once… he barely checked-in with me at all while we were in there. And on the playground? Same thing. He was in paradise. He was almost overwhelmed by everything he could touch and roll and bang and push. It was amazing.
And I watched him play with the bobbing little blondes and brunettes. I listened to the other moms talk about previous years at the school and this party and that function… and found myself bored, and pondering. I wondered, again, if i was doing something wrong by enrolling both of my sons in this school.
My Quiet Thoughts today are about contentment. About making decisions and rolling with them, and trusting yourself to make the right ones most of the time. I recognize that I will make few choices that are absolutely perfect. I also recognize that I will probably make fewer absolutely and flagrantly poor choices. If it’s all on a spectrum, I think the odds are that most of the decisions that I make about these boys, where they go to school, and how I raise them will probably be the right ones.
I picked the right school for these two boys. The racial component is slightly problematic, but everything else about it is perfect. My boys are happy when they are there, they are loved by their teachers, they care learning and growing, and they are better for being part of that community. I’ve chosen well. I must be content.
I think that contentment, along with patience, is a virtue that I do not possess. It’s easy to covet the gifts and possessions of others. It’s easy to chase ambitions and the perks and spoils that come with the next great achievement. It’s easy to look at yourself in the mirror and decide you hate everything you see for want of whatever the socialized standard is. It’s also easy to second-guess every decision you’ve ever made and wonder what more you could be enjoying if only you’d done this or that. I think this is something that I have disliked about my 20s–I’ve rarely stopped, looked around, and decided that I’m content with what I have and who I am.
There is something healthy in that: ambition is a virtue of its own. I wouldn’t be here without it. I recognize that there is an extreme, though, and I feel like I’ve danced on the edge of it multiple times in the last decade. Even when it comes to myself and who I am, only recently have I started looking in the mirror and deciding, with all sincerity, that I like the way I look. I like my hair for the first time ever. I’m growing to like my body more and more, slowly shedding these pounds and finding a shape that works for me. I’m learning to focus the ambitious energy into very specific spheres rather than letting it be the defining color of my world view.
I’m trying not to put a of burdens on my 30s, but I’d like to further practice my contentment. To be more mindful of it, I guess, than I have over these last 10 years. I don’t want to be stagnant, giving up on dreams and never pursuing new ones, but I’d also like to spend significantly less time wondering “what if” and even less time deciding that I’m doing it all wrong. We’re doing more than a few things right at the moment. We certainly got this preschool thing right. My boys are the only color walking, and that’s a concern to be sure, but that is no reason to deny them such a wonderful opportunity to have the best preschool experience that I can provide for them. I’m lucky, I’m blessed, I’m content.
It is a most beautiful Friday here in Massachusetts. The sky is blue, the sun is warm, the leaves are still green (but threatening to change), and the air is cool and crisp. The sun will set at 6:59 this evening. The lows in my neck of the woods will be down to the lower 50s if not the 40s. I baked my first batch of pumpkin muffins and a loaf of brioche is on my countertop for tomorrow’s pan perdu. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, dear reader. My heart sings, even though I know that winter is not far off…
On this beautiful Friday, I wish you warm socks. Seriously. From the second you wake up until the second you go to bed, warm socks on your feet. Bonus points if they are hand-knitted by someone who loves you. I wish you warm tea or coffee, served in a favorite mug. I wish you a first good gulp of apple cider if you can get your hands on some, a cinnamon stick in the mug for good classic measure. I wish a moment under a tree in your favorite hoodie or sweater, a good book in hand, your phone on silent. I wish you a smile from a stranger, and maybe a second glance from across a crowded room. I wish you the knowledge that you are loved and admired, that you’ve made more right choices than wrong ones, and that tomorrow’s going to be a fantastic day.
Until Monday, take care.