Since Maki is now in 8th grade, last night marked the third “Parent Night” I’ve attended at the Middle School. This is the evening at the beginning of the year when parents are invited to follow their child’s schedule, spending 12 minutes between bells in each classroom, meeting the teachers and getting a quick syllabus/approach to each subject. It all started out fine: PE, English, Science….I knew the general drill by now.,
Actually it was pretty great knowing our kid was an 8th Grader this year. Top of the Hill, again. I knew he would feel more confident in his classes as he knows how to move between them so much better than he did two years ago.
We’ve been expecting bigger concepts and more homework. Just like the teachers last night confirmed there would be. Nothing strange here…
And then I visited the 4th Period classroom: Mrs. Rosien’s Advanced Art.
She began to talk about how she she loved this elective class because the students actually wanted to be there. They were all students she had known for 2-3 years. I realized that Maki had been taking one of her classes every year since he arrived at this school. That she was actually one of the consistent people in his life. She probably didn’t even know it. And on top of that, she is one of those teachers who walks in pure encouragement and love. Out of the blue, I was touched to the core. I started leaking from the eyes…in a room with 15-20 other adults. Oh dear.
I managed to push through the next two classes, but it was difficult. I wanted to be there, but I felt surprisingly emotional. It shocked me, but I knew it wasn’t dangerous. Slightly embarrassing and annoying at worst.* (I feel I may need to make a disclaimer here: With my history/recovery of Major Depression, I know the difference of this and uncontrolled emotion and I am not afraid of a few tears.) Generally, it is a gift to be able to FEEL…appropriately.
I’ve heard that the feelings of grief come when you least expect them. We shore ourselves up and carry on with our lives because we have to. We look on the bright side, we see the positives. And then suddenly… it hits you in the small, routine moments of life.
(a picture of inner-children in math class? Could be!)
Anyway…I held things together pretty well and listened as best I could to the teacher’s plans for the year (yes, I did enjoy it mostly, too.) But by the time I got back to my car, I wanted to review the evening with someone (well actually, only with Vernon) just like we always have. Its like when we go to parties…we can be separate the whole time…but at the end of the night, when you are sitting in bed reviewing with each other all the details: who you talked to, what felt weird, funny, etc. Those are the things I realize I miss. For us, those are lovely nuggets of relationship: the going apart and returning. Experiencing things separately and sharing them together.
It’s not that Back-To-School night is especially sweet or sentimental. But I am realizing (as is Maki, who has his own story.) that in the summer, when routine goes out the window, when we live in change and spontaneity, it was easier to deal with our feelings. Its the memory…the return to normal that brings up the grief* and tears. September brings consistency, routine. It also brings up missing him.
*in this case, my definition of Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.