Today Em will be back at Whittier. I slept poorly for the second night in a row, my thoughts occupied with running through our options…
- try again with Kauffman
- return to Whittier
- augment Whittier with a touch of homeschool during our mom/daughter time
And every time I thought of returning for a second or third day with Kauffman, I flashed onto the memory of Em’s tear-filled eyes beseeching me to tell them the truth, that we had agreed to one day, and one day only.
She was scared, intimidated, and was also tired, hungry and suffering from her fall allergies. It wasn’t a perfect test, but I have to live with the results and agree that, for now, Whittier is our best choice.
A Catastrophic Day
We received an acceptance offer to Kauffman Charter School on Wednesday, and despite having “made up our minds to attend Whittier” I couldn’t help but wonder if we should at least give it a chance.
Em was not excited. She was also beginning to get the sniffles – a sure sign of fall allergies setting in – but she agreed to “try out Kauffman for one day.”
On Wednesday night she was quite nervous, and slept in our room, tossing and turning, talking in her sleep. Dave, who had ear plugs in, was the only who got a full night’s sleep.
Combine that with the early hour, not enough breakfast, and a full immersion into the school’s unique way of educating children and we had nothing less than catastrophe.
Worse, I was told by the staff member to pick her up at 4:30, but Kauffman has an early release all this week at 1:30! So Em waited for half an hour, dissolving into tears, The phone rang at 2pm, “Come get me, school let out at 1:30.” She couldn’t manage to say anything more and I ran for the door and drove there as quickly as I could.
I finally got there, went to the wrong gate, then parked when I should have pulled forward to some invisible place I knew nothing about and went to the front office which was the incorrect place to go. They were kind and walked her over to the office where she appeared, face and eyes swollen from crying, and buried her face in my chest.
“We will see you tomorrow, Emily!” the staff member chirped brightly and Em stared up at me, her eyes brimming with unshed tears, silently beseeching me to set them right.
This morning I called them and said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is going to work out this year. Frankly, she was terrified and overwhelmed.”
Reading Adventures – Full Steam Ahead!
A few days ago I was watching Curiosity Stream “The Real Mary Poppins” and I felt a huge twinge of sadness. On our bookshelves in our library are four of the Mary Poppins books in hardcover, purchased when Em was a baby or I was pregnant with her. We began to read the first book years ago, but never finished.
My heart twanged with sadness. Was it too late? Had I missed our window?
Years ago, struggling as a single mom, I had wanted to buy all of the Oz books, in hardcover when I discovered them coming out at the local Barnes and Noble. I had wanted to read each one to Dee, but time, energy, finances and more had meant that we never did, something I regretted immensely over the years.
I have come to believe that parenting is made up of 25% interactions and 75% guilt.
I checked on Amazon for the age range, realized it was ages 10-12, and immediately proposed we read the first Mary Poppins book after we finished When A Monster Calls. By the way, this was an excellent, if grim book. Fair warning, it will make you cry!And now I’m trying to figure out how to shove the Oz books, of which I have all of the first 14 and possibly half of the next 14 (written by Ruth Plumly Thompson), as well as Little House on the Prairie collection, Anne of Green Gables collection, and Lemony Snicket’s books all into our reading repertoire.One chapter a night, at least 4-5 nights per week. That’s my goal.Now that the onus of homeschooling is off of my plate, reading isn’t “an activity to shove in before bedtime in addition to all of the other gotta do’s” – it’s time with Em to cuddle close and enjoy her presence. It also means a limit to her screen time each evening, but in a way that she will enjoy.
The Trio of Fairies Continues
It occurred to me that I have not updated on our continued fairy journal. And I will predicate this by saying that we do not write often. This is because I forget to…constantly…despite having several obscure notes on my desk reminding me to do so (they kind of get buried under other papers).
In any case, Em is enjoying her interactions with Whip,Snap and Per, limited as they are. It provides a nice note of levity to our days, and Em responds so well to the pretense that I cannot help but continue.
Here are the last few interactions…
In case this is hard to read it says:”Dear Whip, Snap and Per – We haven’t talked in a while so here’s an update today. I [hurt] a lot and it feels like I [might] have burned myself on a firework but the pain started this morning but I’m not [sure] please write me back I miss you three bye – Em-Lee”
The fairies call her “Em-Lee” which she finds amusing, so they have continued to do this. Here is how the responded…
Em wrote back rather quickly…
And my response back (finally) yesterday…
She had a good giggle this morning as she read the entry and immediately noticed it was from Whip. She enjoys it, and we both pretend that I am merely a bystander in all of this. I regularly comment that fairies “are rather unreliable, flighty things” to explain my inability to remember to write back regularly.
She takes it in stride. When she is tired of waiting she comes to me and says, “Mama, the fairies STILL haven’t written back.”
And then I try desperately to remember while she is still asleep in the morning.
It’s all about timing, after all. The little shits are nocturnal.
It isn’t PC to post about your emotional turmoil – to speak frankly, or worse to continue to repeat what your pain feels like. We live in a society that admonishes us to “buck up” and “put on a brave face” after all.
But six weeks after what felt like the final blow in Dee’s and my relationship and I’m still reeling, still floundering about and trying to define who I am in the face of a diatribe of labels. I am also trying to match her words with the person I had spent 18 months peaceably living with from May 2015 to December 2016 (not to mention her first 18 years of existence). The years we had spent working out our issues, and the past 18 months of not only living together but often working together – having such a different, starkly negative outlook from her, it continues to shake me.
I look at Em and think of how much I love her. How much I loved her sister. I think about how I put off college when Dee was struggling in school. Because to work full-time AND go to college meant I wasn’t there and present for her. And she came first. I had no idea at the time the gravity of the situation affecting her, no inkling that my second husband was not the man I thought he was, but still. I was willing to wait, to put off college and focus on what was important, her.
And with Em, the decision on whether to homeschool or not was an exquisitely painful one. Was I neglecting her by working? Had I condemned her to a sub-par education because I was concerning myself with retirement and money issues?
Not a single one of my decisions as of late have been easy. The decision to not argue, not post a blistering response to the fallacies uttered by my eldest, to not defend myself in any way – that was really hard. It’s still hard. Of all the people in the world, the ones we love have the greatest capacity to hurt us. They know our secret fears, they know just how and where to twist that knife.
Accepting that I could not give Em the best educational experience, due to needing to work, write and more – that was really hard. I look at her and remember Dee at her age. I was desperate to slow down time, to extend each minute, each hour, and truly enjoy my time with them. I was, and still am, painfully aware of how quickly our children grow into adults.
These fears, these moments of sheer misery reach out and smack me regularly. They wake me up in the middle of the night and will not let go for hours.
I say this, not because I need sympathy, kind words, or advice. Honestly? They won’t help. I just need to experience it, and hopefully make it to the other side. I need to accept that my eldest will no longer be in my life and that there is nothing to do or say to change that. She does not want me.
I say it because I know there are others out there going through painful moments. They may not be the same, the circumstances tweaked in a far different way. But it is there. Hold strong. Allow yourself to grieve, to question yourself (and to create new answers) about the person that you truly are.
I doubt I will ever understand why this has happened now, after all of these years and effort, sacrifice and love. But I know that I have to accept it and move on. I have a child who loves me and needs me – and she is who I am going to focus on. Because in the end, that is really all that is left to do.