It is still cold and raw here in Boston and while we can see most of our grass, it’s still way too cold to toss the kids out the door in the morning to “explore their new yard.” But at this point in the winter (I refuse to acknowledge spring before we at least crack 50 on a regular basis), we’ve completely exhausted most feasible indoor distraction options that last long enough for one of us to finish a cup of coffee while it’s hot. We are desperate. Which explains how we ended up at the grocery store Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.
About four years ago, we stumbled on an Easter egg hunt in our local supermarket, of all places. That first one was a bit of a train wreck. No organization, a very late bunny appearance and a rather unprepared staff in general. So our expectations were very low, still, it was new and different and we hoped would capture the girls’ attention for at least 15 minutes.
We were therefor pleasantly surprised to find that while the crowds have gotten no bigger and the bunny is still terrifying to Ce, the logistics definitely had improved. The girls had a great time stuffing their faces with free mini donuts and then careening around (rather bewildered) customers pulling eggs off the shelves. Allison was genuinely confused at first but she’s very good at doing exactly as big sister does, so she managed to to figure it out pretty quick.
We followed it up by dying some eggs of our own. Not a bad Saturday morning after all.
A garden dies once a year and as the nights are now creeping into the fifties death is in the air. The tomato vines are beginning to brown and sag. The peas are now withered and yellow. The strawberries are tucked into their bed until next year. The peppers will hold out for another week or so but are beginning to blush a deep red.
Truth be told, it wasn’t a great year for the garden. I think the soil is pretty exhausted and needs an overhaul, but the girls (and Dash) thoroughly enjoyed it. It became a ritual to check the garden everyday when we returned home from day care and pick some things to bring in for dinner. Most things rarely made it that far. Ally was quite content to graze the rows popping in little cherry tomatoes, sucking out the jelly and seeds than spitting the skins out. She became alarmingly proficient, quickly stripping a plant faster than a hornworm, but that’s sort of the point to all this, so I had to learn to shrug and move on. Luckily, she can’t fit the heirlooms in her mouth.
It almost didn’t happen this year, but two months later than usual, we did finally manage a free Saturday afternoon (the birthday party circuit was brutal this year) to get the snap peas planted, along with (too many) tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, lettuces and herbs.
Five seems to be the right age if you are really looking for help. Cecilia had the routine down pat this year and had the fine motor skills to do an entire, straight row this year all by herself.
Of course her little shadow thought this was a great game. Let’s crawl through the big sandbox and hide these tasty snacks! A great way to spend an afternoon after a long nap. Peas ended up side by side with peppers. Snug up besides the basil and sharing fertilizer with the tomatoes. A Jackson Pollock veggie garden.
My dream of arrow-straight, manicured rows of crops will have to wait another year. I don’t mind.
Let me just say right up front that everyone there old enough to buy a drink recognized that this graduation ceremony was a bit over the top and ridiculous….and yet….And yet sometimes parenting can feel like you’re only saying ‘No’ for the 234th time or pulling yet another jagged piece of Ariel’s bubble boat out of your heel or waking up at 3 a.m. and worrying about that wheezing cough you can hear in the next bedroom. So what the hell, it was a beautiful summer night, let’s eat some cake and celebrate a preschool graduation complete with caps, pomp and circumstance, and a 50% reduction in those monthly payments!
Next Tuesday afternoon, Cecilia goes to her new elementary school and has kindergarten orientation. I’m sure walking through those doors will be much more of a shock for both her, and us, but in many ways last night did mark the end of an era of sorts. Cecilia started day care there when she was 12 weeks old and was the first infant at this new preschool when it opened. They actually opened two days early to take her after our other day care flaked out on us. Over five years later and at this point she has probably spent more time there than she has in her own home. She has literally grown up there. From gigantic infant head to wobbly steps and first words to first letters, she has marked time and milestones by moving up to each new classroom until there were none left.
Yes, many of the kids in her class will continue on into the public school system here, but many from other towns won’t and those friendships will likely begin to fade away. One more bittersweet life lesson learned. Not just for her, but for us, too. Almost daily we’ve seen the same parents at drop-off, pickup and weekend birthday parties and taken solace in their matching harried looks, knowing eye rolls and pocket flasks.
Often it’s easier to see the passage of time in the growth of other children than it is to see it in your own and we’ve witnessed these kids growing alongside Cecilia. Every day they swarm the door at drop-off and pickup. First clutching your ankles, then banging into your knee and finally jumping up to give you high fives. We’ll miss that camaraderie, too.
So let’s not be too quick to move on. That school bus will come around the corner in the fall soon enough. I’m sure the next graduation will, too, and I am in no rush to pay those bills.
So here’s to the preschool class of 2014 and the future class of 2028. Stop growing up so damn fast.
For those of you who don’t know, my husband was able to take 12 weeks of paternity leave when Cecilia was born. That meant that I had a house husband to help me during my recovery and more importantly get to experience what it is like to be home with a newborn. At first people asked me if having my husband home would drive me crazy, they told me that husbands could only get in the way of diaper changes, fuss outbreaks, and feedings. However, my experience has been the complete opposite. I have considered having Mike home with me a blessing. We have been able to figure out this parenting thing together and have both been able to watch our daughter grow each day. In addition it has given us time to bond as a couple and allowed us to develop and nurture our new family. Its not always rosy, we do bicker at times and lose our patience with each other and the baby, but its all part of the journey. I don’t know if we will ever get to both be home together for 12 weeks again, but I will always look back at this time as one of the happiest and most exciting times of our lives.