Last Wednesday I volunteered as a parent helper at Cad's school. Never before have I had the privilege of being around such a large group of 3, 4, and 5 year olds at once. As they played outside I watched as they interacted with each other. There were games of Ice Cream Store, Robot Man, and Tag. They climbed, and raked leaves. I saw them talk to their teachers and each other.
I haven't blogged much about Cad's preschool, mostly because it's taken him a little while to transition into it and it hasn't been perfectly smooth. I guess I was reserving my final judgement after a little more time. These teachers are amazing. They are open and aware, they listen. Their attention is able to be spread over each of these little beings as they bounce off each other and flit about the play yard. I realized that for the 3 hours a day that Cad is at school these 4 women have to be every thing these children need in every way. In the span of about a half hour I watched as they seamlessly transitioned between roles; protector, soother, disciplinarian, educator, confidante, leader, follower, stand-in parent.
The teachers even took care of me. They explained to the children that I was new and might have questions about how things work at the school. When asked who would be able to help me answer my questions every child proudly raised their hand. I stayed for circle time and a song and then I started my volunteer work. The children were all finishing up holiday gifts for their parents and they didn't want me to see what Cad was creating. They gave me a job of filing that they were dreading, but I really enjoyed. I got a cup of tea and listened to the sweet sounds of children at the work of play down the hall.
I left the school that day sure that Cad was in the right place, so pleased how each of his teachers fulfilled an important role in his life. I saw his teachers as individual people who have their own home lives but still focus on each child making sure they are mittened and buttoned up on a cold December afternoon. I felt blessed to have seen how the relationship among children and with their teachers has developed into one of respect and nurturing. Wednesday was a beautiful day for me.
The events of Friday, December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut are shocking to anyone. I think there is particular sadness and fear among those who are parents, teachers, or people who have a relationship with children. For me, the thought of losing Cad is paralyzing and overwhelming. I know many parents have the occasional fear that they may somehow lose their children. Hopefully parents don't dwell on the thought and they move on, knowing that they can only instill their child with the important values that you hope will keep them safe and healthy.
In this aftermath atmosphere of powerlessness to help those who have suffered such an unimaginable tragic loss there is a chance for negativity and toxicity to bleed through. My facebook feed has been full of opinions on both sides of the issues of guns, gun violence, mental illness, and expectations of the protection available for our children. Sometimes the stating of opinions turn into arguments, and worse. Where I fall in these matters is of no importance because I am seeing how easy it is to be drawn into a conversation that does not even come close to "fixing" anything. It's so easy to fall into the politicization of tragedy because I believe it's a method of grieving.
As Cad's mother I am inclined to count my blessings. First, Cad has no knowledge of what happened in Newtown. I am glad that I do not have to attempt to quiet his fears with my own and those of my husband. Second, I am here and the people I love are here and life is meant to be lived. Focusing on positivity and forward momentum are ways that I can stop dwelling on this terrible event of the past that I cannot change or make better. Third, I can turn my computer off, and avoid discussion of this topic in social media. I can stop reading the most updated news on it. Fourth, I can focus on the fact that the holidays are upon us and it is a time of year to express gratitude for all that we have.
The only medicine I have to soothe this ache I feel is a dose of love. I am taking the time to look my sweet son in the eye and enjoy the gift of the present. Hugs, cuddles, and kisses are in full demand and ready supply. Ever mindful of the delicacy of life, I am going to strive to make each moment count. Over the next few weeks my computer time may be more limited due to my desire to refocus my attention. I have noticed other parents mentioning their intention to do the same.
My deepest desire and wish is that you are able to enjoy the sweetness and joyousness of the holiday season, no matter how you celebrate and that we move into the new year with a renewed sense of hope and happiness.