Peter Pan
The Big Surprise

So the big day this household has been waiting for has come and is almost over. First Day of School, 2015.

Ours had two phases. Maki, who not only was ready for the carpool by 7:30, had already showered by the time I got up at 6:30.This early rising thing was new to the both of us, and I have to say he did better than me. It’s now 8:30pm, and I don’t know if I can stay awake for the entire post. Knackered.


Doesn’t he look thrilled?  In the end, he reportedly had a good day. We just finished filling out signature forms for his teachers, after reading their classroom rules and course descriptions. He made a marked point to make sure I signed them all tonight, admitting that in years past he’d been lazy about these sheets and that had negatively affected his grades from the beginning each year. It seems his attitude toward school has become more positive over the course of the summer.  Synnove, Maki, and I have had several conversations about these approaching High School years and he seems to be pretty confident going into them.  As they say in England– “start as you mean to go on.”

Justine, who didn’t have to be at school till later, got to sleep in. She’s a late owl in the staggered class-times, and today was an extra late “one hour orientation” with both children and their parents.  It was so strange to have those hours between Maki and Justine’s departure times. I was able to sit and have coffee and catch up with an old friend on the phone without being interrupted.  It was great! I’ll just have to remember to go to sleep early to make up for it.



The Kindergarten was sweet and wonderful of course. I got to meet a couple of the other parents.  We all looked at each other so differently than we might have before. Except in the case of a major move, most of these kids will grow up together from this day on…at least till 6th grade (ages away, I tell myself.) The teacher was silly and engaging as she introduced herself to them, encouraging them to raise their hands to talk, singing their names in roll call. You know…as no teachers ever do after Kindergarten.  Just the thought now makes me tear up.


It was worse this morning, sitting on my mini classroom-chair, watching with the other parents. I was a dripping mess, with no saving tissue in sight.  Oh my goodness, I thought, I’m so embarrassed. If she sings one more song or makes one more playful rhyme to make them fall in love with her today, I don’t know if I can hold it all in.

It was fantastic. I just felt so sentimental. I guess Maki and Justine having such significant passages at once really knocked the sentimental wind out of me. I just didn’t expect it to hit me all at once.

Afterwards, on our way out of town, to see Vernon, I noticed how empty the roads seemed again. It was as if a switch was flicked and all the pedestrians and summer traffic disappeared. An overcast sky and a few thin surprise rain-showers made it seem like autumn. I thought: how fitting, even the sky is crying sad tears because school has taken away all the playing children (two weeks early, I might add.) Justine had a different perspective: “Hey, I just saw the beginning of a rainbow!”

Vernon too, seems to have commenced to another level in his own journey. With more consistent wakefulness (though still very little short term memory) as well as his dialysis schedule changing to mornings from afternoons, I am allowed to back off a little in his care. I don’t have any choice really. If I go to sit with him at Dialysis, I have just enough time drop Justine off in the morning, drive to Costa Mesa and then back again before picking her up. I’ve asked for mornings for a year and finally got them, so I won’t complain. It just changes the routine. I’ll actually see him him more, just not as often at the Care Home (I’ll still try to get there two or three times a week.) The truth is, as we get busier here with school and work projects, I cannot be in both places at once. I feel torn, but I also trust that he is well enough now to leave for longer periods.

He’s got Joe to look after him, and I know he will take better care of him that I can. As I’ve mentioned before, my hope for Vernon is that he will become aware enough of his situation that he will be able to take part in his own recovery. He has to want it, but first he has to recognize he needs it.

“Separation” is a synonym for “independence.” Funny how each of us is going into a new stage of independence, each in our own way. It’s how we learn, its how we grow, its how we heal.


“Now smile, Vernon.”


A helping hand.


Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.  ~John Dewey IMG_3720













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Peter Pan
The Big Surprise