Tag - space

Back to School
Outer Space
Heaven is a Place

Back to School

I am alone for the first time in months. Hello silence! How I’ve missed you. Which also means: Hello self! There you are! How are we feeling about being alone? Should we eat some ice cream or should we write. I’ve carried half-written posts around in my head all summer, never finding the space or time to sit down and share them. My boys turned seven. We had a lovely family vacation and I sank into brief breaks here and there — a book on the beach, a stroll on the sand — but nothing quite beats the sound of silence for this weary mom.

Back to school brings with it the familiar angst, the wringing of the hands, the transition to something new. We’re in second grade. The amount of worrying I do as back-to-school ramps up is ridiculous. Ridiculous. It helps when I hear that I’m not the only neurotic mom trying to micromanage every aspect of my kids’ lives. As if I could.

Last year I lost sleep over John’s then-new teacher, so worried was I that she wasn’t going to be as good as his first one. She turned out to be better! You’d think I’d learn from that — and I have, really. It just has not stopped me from fretting anew about all of the things I cannot control. This part of being a mom is the absolute worst — the letting go, the trusting. I do not do it well. The only thing that makes it bearable is that my kids are much more resilient than me.

So here we are: Sam moved up to second grade with not one friend or classmate from last year. Not one. It’s like they went out of their way to isolate him. This, when social skills are paramount on his IEP.

The first week the students line up in front of the school by classroom. On the first day I lead an anxious little boy to his new teacher. He is quiet. He notices several former classmates in a separate line. He waves and says hello under his breath but they don’t notice. I tell him “They just didn’t see you, honey.” If his teacher wasn’t excellent… I think, but she is. Members of his team try to reassure me that this is going to be Sam’s best year yet but I have no objectivity. My head has checked out and given control over to my heart, which by the way, is breaking! He’s all alone! He’s sad!

Of course I go home, call the husband and sob. He picks up after the first ring, says he’s been expecting my call. He hears my concerns, wonders if this might not be a positive in some ways. But you didn’t see his face! It’s not right, I say. I spend the rest of the day drafting anxious emails to the principal and his team — should we transfer him?

I save the draft and decide to see how his first day went. If he’s sad, I will hit send! I go to the school and wait out front for him. I’m prepared for the worst, my imagination is by now, firmly in overdrive.

“It was a great day!” he says running to me. “I love second grade!”
Resilient. Positive. Confident.

He has already memorized half of the class in alphabetical order, of course. He rattles them off to me, “…numbers 12, 13, 14, and 15 I don’t remember yet, but I will tomorrow. Number 16 is… ” He even found his best friend C. at recess and they played together. Huh.

Letting go… trusting… it’s a process. He teaches me. How I love that boy.

Outer Space

Back when Sam was oh, about two, he discovered outer space. He’d watch the Baby Galileo DVD on a constant loop if I’d let him. The planets, the stars, irresistible shiny things. As with every subject that fascinates him, he would make drawing after drawing of Neptune, Saturn, Mars and then call out their names, his love of the alphabet nearly as strong.

We discovered soon enough that he could read. The first time was at the grocery store: we’re passing the deli, Sam looks up from his seat at the front of the cart and sounds out “De-li. Ham.”

There was the time we took him to the National Air and Space Museum and as the four of us walked the exhibits he’d shout out the planet names to the astonishment of those around us. A little tow-headed two-year-old, who until recently had not uttered one word.

I remember all this as John’s obsession with outer space has now reached its pinnacle. He believes that his mother can do anything. He watches me crochet and climbs on my lap. I tell him “Mommy is making a scarf.”

He jumps off, brings me some yarn and says “Mommy is making the planets.” And so it begins. The moment he awakes: “Mommy is making the Mars?” Yes. The moment he steps off the bus: “Mommy is making the Neptune?” Yes. Even Pluto, that poor maligned planet that’s no longer a planet.

Days later I am done and I turn towards my neglected scarf. He brings me more yarn and says, “Mommy is making Muno babies.” He thinks I can do anything.

Heaven is a Place

There’s been a lot of talk about dead people and heaven lately. Sam is a bit consumed. There was the time our beloved Kitty died and he processed that with many drawings and a 3-D demonstration of the Thomas the Tank Engine life cycle (which I personally thought was genius).

It’s been quiet — no more talk of death — for close to a year. But he’s in first grade now — learning about presidents both dead and living, discussing Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and why it’s a holiday (“But he’s dead, Mommy, right? Do they have birthday parties in heaven?”) and suddenly he’s all “Mom, can you tell me about your Grammie who died again? Your Grammie in Florida.”

I oblige and tell him the bare minimum. I say, She was very sick and very old, Sam. I loved her very much and she loved you too. I don’t tell him how there’s a piece of me that aches when I think of her and that I don’t really know the answers to his questions or the ones I sense are coming.

“How old was she?” he wants to know. Eighty-six, I say. “And how old was I? When she died.” I tell him he and his brother were not yet two.

“Do we all die?” he asks. Yes, sweetheart, but after a very long, long time. My Grammie was pretty old.

“She’s in heaven,” he says. “But where is heaven? How do you get there?” I tell him the truth for once, that I don’t know but that I imagine it’s a beautiful place up in the sky where everyone is happy and it’s sunny all the time. “But how do you get there?” I really don’t know, honey, but I think your spirit flies up there when it’s time.

What else can I tell a boy who gathers facts like a squirrel hoarding nuts. Facts are solid and make sense. Heaven is faith. Can my little boy have faith?

He dropped the subject for a few days and returned to poring over his encyclopedia (a requested item from Santa) and books about constellations.

Yesterday he came home from school and the first thing he said was “Listen, Mom? The Vikings thought that the Milky Way was a bridge the dead crossed from Earth to heaven.” Drumroll, please… “That’s what I think too. Okay?”

Well, okay then.

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