First Day of School

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The day began at 6 a.m. when Gbot, caught atop the box for his Fisher Price Circus in an attempt to extract marshmallows and sugar cereal (which is only in the house due to their inclusion in a Christmas cookie recipe) from the high cupboard, “I am checking to see if the marshmallows and poppers are not soggy.”

And then it was off to the potty. There are guinea pigs in the Montessori classroom, and Gbot adores anything guinea piggish or hamstery, and so I’ve been using that as bait to get him to the potty. For example: “When you go potty in the toilet like a big boy, you get to go to school with the guinea pigs!”

This morning upon successful pottying, he announced, “Oh, the guinea pigs will be SO HAPPY!”

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Not as happy as Mama.

At school, Mbot led the family in one final flushworthy effort.
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And then they were off.

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I was thrilled. I was as thrilled as Gbot and the guinea pigs put together. I didn’t think, “Where has the time gone?” But I did want time to stop.

Maybe it’s having lived through the turn of the century that makes me so aware of the fact that it’s ’13, and to think about everything that happened in the ’13 that I’ve grown up with: 1913. Before World War 1. Before the Model T was in production. Before women could vote. Slavery had been abolished only forty years before. And in forty years, when I’m eighty-five, it’ll be 2053. The early fifties. In the early fifties, my grandpa was only just younger than I am now. He was born in ’15. It is impossible for me not to think of the young boys born near the turn of the last century, who I knew only as old men. Because for the children who will remember me as Great Grandma Etchart, wrinkly and white-haired, Mbot and Gbot will be those boys, who those children will know only as old men. I see this vaster span of time overlaid across every day like a web. And although I know it’s ridiculous, it makes me sad. Can’t we just replay the first day of preschool forever?

Boy on a Bike, with Dog

Morning shadows, nearly as fleeting as bubbles blown from a wand. I love the shadows, the Midgets love the bubbles. Cannot get enough of them. They chase them, squealing, because they disappear. Much of their beauty is in the briefness of their existence.

We chase each other, squealing.

Is  any of our beauty in the briefness of our existence?

Mountain Day, Here I Come

I had my first parent-teacher conference last week. Mbot’s teachers and I sat at a miniature table while I read a three-page report on thirty-nine month-old Mbot and his progress in skills like Pouring Work and Following Verbal Instruction. It’s more sophisticated than but not dissimilar to the report cards I got in grade school, that had a list of stuff in which I could be “outstanding,” “satisfactory,” or in need of improvement. Kids in sixth grade used to get “needs improvement ” a lot in the hygiene department.

In preschool, Mbot only got one “needs improvement,” and that was in Use of Time. Mrs. Pursell, Mrs. Doll, and I looked at each other over the miniature table and said simultaneously, “He’s three.” Not worried.

The next morning, I got an email notice that my Alma mater was celebrating Mountain Day. It’s a Mount Holyoke College tradition: One morning a year, usually at the height of fall colors, the bells in the tower peal at 7 a.m., signalling no classes that day, and both students and faculty flee to the hills. They climb the actual Mt. Holyoke, they bike to Atkin’s farm stand to buy donuts and cider, they generally celebrate not spending three hours cooped up in a chem lab sucking on pipettes. It’s a very civilized tradition, like the siesta. I’ve always thought Real Life should feature one.


However, I never was very good at Mountain Day. I wasted them–every one of them. I prided myself on being able to guess, with 100% accuracy, when Mountain Day would be, and then not doing the work that would otherwise be due that day.

The result was that I’d have to spend all of Mountain Day doing the work I’d  put off. While the Massachusetts hills were alive with the sound of students, I was lying on my stomach in the grass in the amphitheater with a half pound bag of M&Ms and an unfinished lab report.

So I see where Mbot might have gotten his retarded growth in Use of Time. I do hope he figures it out before I did.

In the name of redemption on all of our behalves, I am declaring Mountain Day today. Husbot called yesterday and suggested we meet up in the mountains near Flagstaff for a weekend of leaf-peeping, playing outside wearing puffy coats, and trying to make the Midgets wear hats. So while it’s not exactly a day off, what with last-minute packing up of Midgets and Midget Gear and teaching my niece how to give the antique cat his insulin injections, at least it is good Use of Time.

See you tomorrow.

Have you given yourself a Mountain Day lately?