Wednesday 12 July 2023

New Era

Summer has bloomed, and we’ve begun it with visits and connections and tidying and delightful leisure opportunities. And there are a few rents in the fabric that lead to darker places, because that is inevitable. But, all that can wait for another post or posts.

Meanwhile I wanted to note the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Back in August 2015 I noted with a lot of relief that we had found 9 month old AJ a childcare spot. I was returning to teaching in September. I got the call while sitting on an airplane (AJ’s first flight) en route to visit my parents at their summer home (the only time we would ever go there with my dad, though we didn’t know that at the time).

A little over 3 years later, in December of 2018, I withdrew AJ from BrightPath. She was 4 years old, Dani was a baby and I was on maternity leave. I was surprisingly sad to leave behind her daycare community. 
As I wrote at length here, it was like leaving part of our village behind. But there was a hope of a continued connection in that Dani might attend the same daycare. 

Well. As it turned out, Dani did attend Brightpath. And she followed in her sister’s footsteps by thriving there. No words can ever fully express how much it means to have a place where I knew my children would not just get basic supervision but a stimulating, affectionate environment. Our trust never felt misplaced.

Because time does not stand still, it was time for another goodbye at the end of June. Dani goes to kindergarten in the fall. I remember what a big deal it seemed for AJ to go to kindergarten. This time around it feels more like known territory. But her preschool years are over forever.

Dani got to have a preschool graduation, which was adorable. And she was one of two students who led the group singing O Canada. That was probably my favourite moment, in addition to the other song number all the children performed. I didn’t know anything about preschool graduation when AJ was the same age, so AJ never got to do her ceremony (she left in December).

Before becoming a mom, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of a preschool graduation. But I am very glad that the daycare held this event. It’s so important to mark time. Sometimes you don’t have a
choice about the way in which things end and others begin, but when you do it’s important to be mindful of it. My childhood was without most of these ceremonial markers. It’s very important to me that my children have a richer social experience.

As I described in my my earlier emtry, I have a copy of Dr Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go for AJ and I ask her teachers to sign and leave a message in the book at end of every year. The idea is that it will be a graduation gift at the end of grade 12. I also bought one for Dani this year and inaugurated it last month. Smile and sigh. (I also made the decision last year to not keep the books a secret from the girls as I want them to read the messages their teachers write as they grow up.)

On the second last day of June Dani and I took doughnuts, lemonade and a card to the staff. I think I needed to do that for myself as much as for anyone else. I couldn’t just walk away. We promised to visit. I think we really will try; after all the daycare is in our community and on our regular paths. But those paths are getting broader and busier as the girls grow up. 

It’s exciting. I love being the parent of older kids. There’s so much we can do and learn! They have so many questions and observations and they are getting really, really good at so many things! I also see their young years in an evolving way as they grow. It becomes more obvious how important it is for both parents and tiny tots to have support as new beings. Going back even to pregnancy and birth. I hired a doula for both births and I am so glad I did, because I believe she profoundly affected how I experienced each event and the beliefs and feelings I carry forward about them. Both girls’ births were challenging for different reasons but I don’t experience them as traumatic or even as a means to an end, but as a triumph.

My use of the present tense is deliberate. We are always experiencing and re-creating our memories; they are not static. Every day is like a piece of a story; and the beginning of the story doesn’t matter less as the plot progresses.

Anyway. I treasure the preschool memories and experiences and I think the girls will remember with appreciation all the people who helped them flourish.