Samaya started school a few weeks ago at the public elementary school in our town. I know. I thought I'd be homeschooling too. But never has such a tough decision been so completely and utterly confirmed as this one. In true Samaya fashion, she informed everyone who would listen that she was not at all excited about this prospect. Actually, she wasn't going. Secretly, when her only audience was a two-year-old singing 'Old Me-Donald' on repeat and me, her mother, she would say...the same thing. Except with barely contained excitement, a giant nervous grin, and occasional rapid jumping--the pogo stick kind. If you aren't familiar with the intimate workings of Samaya's brain, they generally follow this pattern:
1. Encounter new situation.
2. Various variations of 'HELL NO' and 'Over my dead body' ensue.
3. Unimaginable and terrifying (and terrified) protest.
4. One toe, then two feet in the water.
5. Good riddance, Mom and Dad! It was nice knowing you!
So, yes, the bloodcurdling scream that issued forth from her small body when I dropped her off that first morning threatened to shatter my heart, but I did my very best to hold it together. I reminded myself that she had been begging and pleading for the past three hours for me to 'just make it time for school already!', that countless signs pointed to her readiness for this experience, and that in a couple days she would most likely have fallen deeply and madly in love with the whole school thing.
I was wrong. Twenty minutes later as Violet and I are paying for our raw milk at the health food store, I get a call. It's her teacher. I see as I'm answering the phone that there is already a missed call, also from the school. I will later learn it is the principal.
"I got to the phone as quickly as I could!" she exclaims.
I suck in a little more breath.
"Samaya's doing fine! She came into the classroom a few minutes ago and went straight to the rug to string beads."
"Oh! Ok!" I say. "I thought this conversation was going to go in the opposite direction. Thank you so much for calling!"
So it took twenty minutes. I was betting on a few days, but I'm working on being wrong more often and this was a welcome opportunity.
The principal was slightly more forthcoming in her voicemail. Apparently it took herself, the guidance counselor, and a couple other teachers to calm her down and allow her to 'vent her feelings' (code for 'wait her out.') Then they walked her down to her classroom, at which point she acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. This was a Friday.
On Monday, I braced myself for another, if slightly milder, scene. The whole school gathers in the gym for morning meeting before going to their classrooms (parents are encouraged not to linger), but this time I stayed with Samaya until she was settled in her room. I'm sure they were more than willing to bend the rules after getting a taste of just who they were messing with. Amazingly, I left the building without so much as a tear. On the way to the car, Violet, in awe, declared, "Mommy, Samaya is so brave now!"
By Tuesday she had decided that the ed. tech in her class was her new best friend. I handed her off at the door and received barely a glance in my general direction. A few days later, she wrote this poem:
I love school
I hold Mrs. Dube's hand every day
I sit on the letter "S"
My dad, the ever proud grandpa, submitted it to the local paper and it was published in the Sunday paper a couple weeks ago. Basically, she loves it. So much so that only the language of poetry could even begin to hint at her true feelings.
And me because it has brought routine and structure into our every day that I so desperately needed. It may sound silly, but having to be out the door by 8 AM is the BEST thing that has happened to my sense of well-being. And my children's hygiene. I can proudly say that they have never bathed and certainly never brushed their teeth as much as they have this past month. I thrive on imposed structure. I fall apart without it. Just look at my second child's teeth as proof. Here I've been thinking for the past 4 years that my life is so hard because motherhood is so hard, when really I just needed a principal to tell me, 'If your kid is late, she'll have to be buzzed in at the main door and marked as tardy.' So far, the child has never been late and only once did I forget to tuck a note in with her snack. Not only that, but the things Violet and I accomplish all before 11:10! Playgroups! Grocery shopping! Story time! Actual walks outside!
This past Monday, my parents took her to school because Sisay and I were away for our anniversary, and the teacher told Sisay she knew we were out of town by the state of Samaya's hair. Awesome. You know, I'm thinking a poem is the only way to adequately convey my newfound accomplishments and pride...
Today I brought my daughter to school
Her breath didn't stink and her hair looked coolEven her sister was wearing pants
A jacket, though? Not a chance
It's all good cuz there's heat in the car
And this mama's feeling like a rock star.
In case the readers are unaware of the actual feat involved in getting pants on Violet, my dad picked up Samaya from school on Monday accompanied by a small person in a t-shirt and underwear. 'There was absolutely NOTHING I could do!' he declared. 'She's more stubborn than you!'