Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday Drive Guest Posts on Motherscribe

Thursday Drive is a blog where the writing makes you catch your breath. Jennifer's natural gift and the lyrical quality of her words transports you. Someday...oh, someday...we will meet for whiskey and a long drive...ogling cowboys...Dive in and relish! Thursday Drive is my guest poster for today...

The smell of school clings to them, and I inhale it. The smell of pencils and crayons and textbooks, of the cafeteria and the sweat of them from their time on the hot playground. We dump the sand from their shoes and put them away for the next morning. A round of snacks follows, and then we talk about the day.
One at a time, each of my two children climbs into my lap. I ask them three questions every time (though those questions turn into more): What was the best part of your day? The worst part? The funniest part?

Those queries take us further than How was your day? ever could. They carry us past the one word answers of Fine and Okay, and into the heart of what happens to them when they step out of the car and into the swirl of backpacks and the sounds of "Love you, too!" every morning.

My son is in fourth grade now, and my girl is the second. For most of the year, they spend the better part of the day in a world that is their own. Among their own friends, facing the bullies, learning to function in a group--the last, a thing I can't teach them well enough at home. There, they decide that they love math or English or P.E. or music the best. They navigate the cafeteria line, and learn to play the violin in the school's Suzuki program. Whole dramas unfold without me there to moderate. If they fall, someone else is there to apply the salve of bandage and words.

They step out of my car and into the world. I let go.

The day will come when, more often than not, they will share their stories with me by phone or email, and it's not likely to happen every day. Odds are, they will live far away from me, and maybe I will hear the just the highest or lowest of their stories.

But, at this age, they tell me they want to live with me forever, that even if they go away to college, they will come back home for good. To that, I smile (and think, "Oh, heck no!"). But then I tell them they can live at home as long as they like, but that I'm sure they will each want to find a place of their own when they're old enough. It's what they need to hear, at age seven and nine, when they are far from the edge of the nest and need feel no danger of being pushed out of it.

If I do enough things right, someday my girl will call me to say, "The funniest thing happened today." Or my boy will email me to ask, "I've had the worst day. Can I get your advice?"

And when I'm lucky enough to have them with me, sitting beside me or across a table, the scents that are familiar now will have left them. They will no longer smell of pencils or markers, or need me to shake the sand from their shoes. They will have collected pieces of the world on their own, and what they have found will be impossible to shake loose. They will know as much as I do about the world, and maybe more.

But when I hug them goodbye and send them back out into that world, I will close my eyes and breathe in, for that moment that they are close to me. They won't even notice, or they will. But maybe they will remember it, this little thing we do now.

And there's a chance--a good one, I hope--they will remember that it was one of the best parts of their day.

It is certainly one of mine.

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  1. Beautiful. Just beautiful. And I am certain they will remember. It is so scary to me, the thought of sending my son out into the big scary world someday, where people will be mean, and he will be disappointed and hurt. Like you said, I just hope he will always come to me with the good and bad.

  2. The joys and heartaches of a mother's heart - I know them well. I know the time is coming hard upon our heels, when they'll grow up and away - I try to remind myself about that when I'm feeling vexed with one of them.
    I hope we both live forever!

  3. you write as if you are singing. This is more that just plain nice-to-read...your style of writing can soothe the mind...

    I have kids of my own and your thoughts are so much like mine but I COULD NEVER HAVE WRITTEN it so beautifully as what you just did.

  4. That was just wonderful! I still remember the smell of my elementary school as a child. Brings back lots of memories!

  5. How perfectly done was that? Thank you.

  6. Your words are so evocative, I could smell the pencils and crayons. WOnderful work. Send this one off.

  7. Thank you, JCK, for that introduction--You have no idea how much that made my day! Can't wait for that road trip, though I suppose we'll have to take turns driving...or perhaps stop a roadside cowboy bars. (Does such thing exist? Must find out...)

    And thank you to everyone for the lovely things you've said...

  8. Another involving (and I smiled BIG and nodded in appreciation AND approval of how you get your kidlettes to share more than a yes or no) post but then I expected no less .. never ever ever ever disappointed


  9. I need to start asking my daughter those 3 questions. I'd probably get a better response than from "how was your day?"

  10. I love when you write about your kids. I love it because you are honest and nice...really nice.

  11. That was simply poetry. I just put HRH to bed with talk of kindergarten and new experiences and thoughts of change and growing up.

    Sounds to me like we're both doing things the right way.

  12. You are a much better parent than the Matron. She wishes she could send hers to you for such a sweet moment . . really. Because she's so busy DRIVING children to different schools and whatnot that there is no real after school moment.

  13. Took my breath away, Jennifer. And this is a lovely, lovely way of communicating with your kids. I'm stealing it.

  14. I know exactly what you're talking about. I don't have the moments you're describing anymore, but I do have the ones you aspire to. And you're right, it's wonderful.

  15. I had to stop back and thank everyone once again, and to give JCK a few air kisses for inviting me in. Thanks for all your kind words.

  16. Beautifully written and so tender. Lucky kids, lucky mom...

  17. *sigh*

    The tears prickle.
    I wish I could write like that.

    I feel just the same. But you express it so well.

  18. That was beautiful- lovely writing, sweet, melancholy...

  19. Ah yes, the sweetness of elementary school. Then comes the hell of middle school/jr. high . . . LOL

    Great post. Reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere, and I have no idea who said it, but here it is:

    "The reason teenagers and old people are so difficult, is that it is easier to let them go when it's time."

    Think about it! :-)

  20. Ooh - I use those questions too, not the "funniest part" one - that's good too. I love to hear my kids' take on humor - it's a great characteristic to develop. Thanks for a great post. I love your writing.

  21. Those are brilliant questions. I need to remember them when the Queen starts kindergarten next year.

  22. You're beautiful, you know that?? ;)


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