The first day of school year 2016-2017 has begun.
Hari went to school wearing a calm, collected, and oh-boy-this-is-huge expression on his face. The intention setting, the hugs and the endless sermon from his parents were the tools in his toolkit today. Ram boarded his school bus with an oversized backpack, and it seemed like he knew what he was doing. Excitement, knowledge of what is to come, and boatload of kisses were his comfort items today.
I am sitting here at home with some peace and quiet. My work and personal emails are overflowing. The flood gates have opened, and it’s full steam ahead. I am feeling a plethora of emotions – the relief that there will be some semblance to routine, the helplessness that the days, weeks, and months are just rolling by in the blink of an eye, the gratitude for what is, the trepidation for what lies ahead , and the faith that it’s going to be ok.
The kids have gone to figure out their worlds; it’s my turn to figure out mine.
Seems like middle school is a maze, literally and figuratively, that you learn to meander with time, practice and patience. Who knew learning to unlock lockers and charting out the path from his locker to his home room to other subject rooms, would turn around nervous energy into bursts of excitement. Much fun was had meeting old friends and exploring new classrooms today. One of the two items the child chose to keep in his locker room as he tested his unlocking skills is a family picture collage that I made through Shutterfly. It made me childishly happy that of all the things that he could have quickly grabbed as his comfort item, he chose us…!!!
This summer began with an air of restlessness as Hari graduated out of elementary school. Conversations were in superlatives leaving us exasperated- why do I ALWAYS have to work on have tos? This is the WORST day of my life! I NEVER get to play video games. We were caught off guard with the sudden streaks of rebellion. With some pondering and reflection, it didn’t take long to realize that I was not any different with my attitude at that age – moody, acting with an air of entitlement, this quest to be on my own, and to be well liked by my peers. May be not as vocal but the attitude was there in all its glory. So the behavior made sense as normal part of growing up. But how do we deal with it as parents? How is middle school here different from back home? What are the issues that middle school exposes the child to? The answers came in the form of Planet Middle School by Dr. Kevin Leman.
While I can’t claim to have figured it out all, the book left me with an understanding of the middle school landscape and the dynamics of middle school years. It taught me the ABCs that middle schoolers crave for – Acceptance, a sense of Belonging, a feeling of Competence. It taught me to take interest in what my child is doing and to hold back from treating it with disdain and contempt. The child will take it out on us because we are his safe haven, where he will feel comfortable enough to unload his pent up frustration. To not judge my child because he is too busy judging himself.
So much is said about the awkwardness of this age and very little about the tenderness. As I said, conversations are in superlatives. Even the good ones. He came up to me one day and said, “Amma I am very grateful to you for arranging this play date. I know you had to ask around a few times and find out who was available. I really had a good day and I am very thankful for that.” And in that instant, I completely and wholeheartedly thought to myself – for you, a thousand times over child!
Children teach us so much about the workings of the human mind and the nature of life. Turns out that the raising a child gets richer, and more rewarding as they get older.
There are days when all I want to do is write, write and write. Simply because I want to. The mind would not rest till the words come tumbling out. Till I have shared the stories of my life. I want to write about this. I want to write about that. I want to write about everything. The pull to write is so overwhelming that running away from it is easier than quietly working on it one word, one sentence, one post at a time. So the lazy mind starts making excuses. Why bother? What’s the point? Who cares? What if I don’t find the right words to express the right emotions? In all this drama, the overwhelming urge to simply write has evaporated unexplored leaving me with a pang. So yeah, some days are like that!
It’s about 10:40 now. Da and the boys have drifted to glorious sleep. The focus lights in the living room is blinding. I can hear the hum of the dishwasher. The mango that I just ate was simply delicious, almost close in taste to banganapalli from back home, leaving me sated and happy. The window sill is lined with Ram’s toys – army men, dinosaurs, and a little wind up mouse. Seeing his toys reminds me of Ram. He has been very supportive tonight, thumbing through his books, coloring his coloring pages, eating pasta, and really entertaining himself for three full hours in my dance class without a whimper of discontent. Thinking of Ram makes me think of Hari. After two weeks of adventure hopping, the child is relieved to putter around the house, indulging in nothingness. This week is an intensive week in our house. Da’s work week is condensed. He is working 40 hours over four days and I am attending a dance workshop in the evenings. My first time ever participating in Kalakshetra style of dance, loving every minute of it. My mind has been indulging in some wishful thinking. I wish I had the time and will to practice more. I wish I learnt faster in class. I take a deep breath. Breathe in – acknowledge, breathe out – let go, just like how a friend had advised in her post. And just like how Lord Siva calmly holds the restless Ganges in his hair and helps her find her ground; my breath, gradually helps me find my ground reminding me to focus within and to just be. The rest will follow.