Graduation

Yesterday was the drop-off for my twins to go to daycamp.  The last time they were at the Goddard School, Sylvia and Evelyn were preschoolers.  Now they are campers.  There is no dreaded naptime after lunch.  Instead, there are water days, special arts and crafts, weekly entertainers.  But, some things never change.  Like pizza day.  And, me.  As in, me not having the right shoes for water day.  I DID bring what I considered water shoes…and I remembered the towels and swim suits and exact change for pizza day.  So, drop off Chance at HIS camp and then drive home to get tennis shoes and then back to Goddard School for shoe drop-off.  And, as I stood outside the classroom, I realized: THIS IS IT.  In six weeks, my babies are going to kindergarten.

Our last preschool graduation – numbers three and four – have passed.   Gone by.  That part of my life is over.  That part of their life is over.  And, I’m excited.  The teachers take care that sentimental parents (me) have all we need.  We have pictures and a CD of songs and their funny interviews.

IMG_0384grad

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sylvia: a scientist (no, she doesn’t.  She wants to be a nurse or teacher.)

Evelyn: a mermaid (probably)

Mrs. Debbie and Mrs. Cathy had some serious work with these two.  My twins hadn’t attended preschool before because of Evelyn’s leukemia so they started out not even knowing about circle time and weather bear.  And then, Evelyn had problems with her chemo and her hair was falling out and then she had blood sugar issues and I’d have to rush over with glycogen drinks.  We stopped chemo before Christmas break…and soon after Sylvia broke her arm.  Phone calls so I could come over and give her Tylenol or bring her sling.

Yup, we were a problem.  But, both girls grew so much under their care.  The graduation itself was so sweet with each class singing their songs and receiving their ‘diplomas.’  Izzy, Little Nana, Mike, and I sat in the audience constantly trying to make sure we could see both twins.  Then, at the ceremony, Mrs. Amber stood up and read “The Little Caterpillar” and she challenged the adults in the audience to really listen.  To embrace the changes that come, to look forward to the future without ignoring the present.  And, I’m ready for the twins to go to elementary school.  They are going to love it.  I know the routine there.  I know how it works.

What I’m scared about is middle school.  Because Diana graduated too.  And I’m okay with the locker and the changing classes.  What I’m scared about is making the bus.  Because, we (Diana and I) struggled to get her on the 8:15 elem. bus and the middle school bus comes at 6:30.  IN THE MORNING.

 

And, if she misses it, I’ve got to wait to get the other three on the elem bus AND THEN DRIVE HER TO SCHOOL.  This has so terrified me that I even offered to homeschool her for 6th  grade.  She said no.  So I adjusted to the idea of her going.  And me waking up at 5:45.  Now, she’s not so certain about going….so we keep flip-flopping.

 

This is probably the last time I can write about Diana because she’ll want her privacy and everything, but I’m proud of her for so many reasons; her love for animals, her fierce independence, her wildness, her curiosity, her love for board games, her zany sense of humor. She also drives me crazy for many of the same reasons.  J  Every year I take a picture of her in my wedding dress, the one I wore when I eloped with Mike to Italy.   Look how grown-up she is.

WD Age 11 2013 (4)

 

Graduation is a mark that we’ve made it.  WE MADE IT.  But, it’s also a knife cutting through a ribbon.  We can’t go back and change anything.  It’s done.  There are some things I would have liked to have done better.

Like: You know how when you’re home with toddlers and preschoolers and you’re done, cooked, wrung out and then YOU HEAR THE GARAGE DOOR GO UP?  You think, my reinforcement is here.  My husband is going to walk through the door and sweep up the kids in a loving hug and I can get out of here.  Just take a quick walk outside by myself.  And, you look at the microwave and the minutes tick by and HE IS STILL IN THE GARAGE.  And your happiness starts going sour like the lunchtime milk in the sippy cup and when he actually walks in (tired from his own day of office work) your jaw is set and you are MAD.  FURIOUS.

Yeah.  We never found a creative, heart-warming solution to that.

Or, letting yourself get so tired and frustrated that you yell and scream and then burst into tears and feel terrible.  Maybe you make everyone a big bowl of ice cream to atone.  Maybe you just send everyone, even yourself, to bed and promise that this won’t happen again.

Maybe you sit everyone down in front of the television and one show turns into two and you whisper to yourself that PBS and the Disney Channel and all those are fine.  They are EDUCATIONAL, you might say.

Or, putting your kid in unsupervised quiet time for half an hour (all the advice columns say “its important for a mom to have a break while the child plays quietly in his or her room.  It helps them learn self-directed play”) and he takes off his full diaper and uses the poop to ‘glue’ his blocks to the wall.  Yeah.  None of the ‘experts’ warned me about that one…

 

The point is, we just timed out on some of those.  The kids got older and the situation went away.  Like in mini-golf.  Take the 6 strokes, pick up your ball from the fake river, and go on to the windmill.

There are a gazillion other examples of ways I’ve messed up, but I don’t have to look back.  Amber’s challenge was to look forward and be ready and excited for change.  And I’m going to do it.  Especially if it means that I get to eat:  one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.

 

Love,

Sherri

I’m TRYING to help here.

On Februrary 14th I took the twins to get their hair cut.  Evelyn’s hair was damaged at the end of her chemo treatment, but was finally growing out, so Mike and I wanted them to have the same length of hair.  That is, we wanted our identical girls to look the same again.  There’s a whole blog post about hair and cancer and appearance and psychology and twins, but I’ll try to stay on track.

We’re at the local haircut place and it’s around dinner time.  I’m flipping through a magazine and there’s one man sitting in a chair and another one comes in later.  ‘Cause it’s VALENTINE’S DAY and most people are doing heart-y type things.  My husband is on his way to Philadelphia to pick up our friend Izzy.  Anyway, the television is on and I’m aware of the evening news talking about Sandy Hook and 26 Days of Random Acts of Kindness.  But, I’m not really paying attention because Evelyn’s hair is finished (her hair is much thinner than Sylvia’s) and she’s climbing on my lap, concerned about the post-haircut dum dum pop sitting in a cansister by the register.  The bell tinkles over the door as one of the men leaves.

I dig out my wallet and the girl comes over to me, tears in her eyes, and says, “That man just paid for your daughter’s haircut.”  I blink, because that’s not what I was expecting her to say, and then run for the door.  Dude is driving away in his truck and I yell out, “Thank you.”  It’s dark out and all I see is his profile as he gives me a wave.  I know I’m a writer and supposed to be observant, but I can’t tell you what he looks like or if I’ve driven past him since then.

So, I come back to the register to pay for Sylvia and the girl tells me, “No, you don’t understand, he paid for both the girls.”

Well, now I’m just confused.  There’s no way he could know about Evelyn’s cancer or what these haircuts were supposed to represent.  Did he feel bad for a mom in a haircut place on Valentine’s Day?  Was he moved by the news program reporting on random acts of kindness?  Was it a Christmas elf from the Polar Express?  I DON’T KNOW.  The girls in the shop were all talking about it.  I came home and posted on FB about the whole thing because I was so touched by the unexpected generosity of a stranger.

But, I knew I had to pay it forward.  So, I put “random act of kindess” on my weekly to-do list.  The next morning I went to WaWa for coffee.  I called my husband and asked if I could buy him a cup.  That counts, I thought.  But, he was actually cutting down on his caffeine and today wasn’t his coffee day.  Okay, I said.  But now he wanted coffee.  Effectively, I’d sabotaged his healthy plan.  Ooops.

Inside the WaWa I had no cash so I paid for two cups of coffee with a credit card.  After I turned away, I had a brainstorm.  “I’ll pay for his stuff,” I said to the cashier and man behind me in line.  Too late.  Cashier was already making change and the man said he didn’t want to wait to void the transaction.  Okay, I’ll catch the next person.  So I lurked by the register until I noticed that patrons were actually AVOIDING my line.  I was freaking out the people at the WaWa.

Next day my Little Mommy comes over.  She really is little — my son is just about her height.  I make lunch and we sit down to talk about nothing and everything.  The twins are behaving wonderfully.  “This is a lovely soup,” she says and I’m proud.  “Lentil,” I say.  She gets to the end and has a funny look on her face.  “Is this…bacon,” she asks.  “Yup, my secret ingredient.”  She nods.  “It’s just that… I gave up meat for Lent.”  Crap, I think. “Sorry,” I say.

Then I have to run over to the local hospital.  Parking is free for the first 90 minutes.   As I’m getting ready to leave, I think, I WILL pay for parking for the person behind me.  I’m getting this be-nice-thing marked off if it kills me.  But, how do you pay for someone else if you don’t have their parking ticket?  In fact, I look at my watch, how do I pay for myself if it’s over 90 minutes because I STILL HAVEN’T BEEN TO THE BANK AND HAVE NO CASH.  I’m panicking in the elevator.  I see a sign for a cafe on the first floor.  Maybe I could give them my credit card and they could give me  cash.  Maybe, worst case, I could dash in and take a tip from a table.  (This shows you the breakdown of my thought process.  I’d gone from trying to pay for someone else to stealing tips and driving through the blockade if necessary.)  Check my watch again and book it to my car.  I had about two minutes left of free parking and I zipped through the garage and out.   I went to the bank next.

Please imagine my relief when, the next day at preschool, Mrs. Amber tells me that The Goddard School was running a pj drive for Casey Cares.  Yes, I said breathlessly, please let me help.  I’ll do anything to help.

Here was an opportunity for me to write a letter of testimony about how Casey Cares had helped while Evelyn was undergoing treatment (I posted it on here last month).  No one was hurt by my letter.  I didn’t have to steal any tips, I just had to join a project that was already in motion instead of trying to mark something off a list.

Casey Cares

572 pairs of new pajamas for children stuck in the hospital needing some encouragement, needing some distraction, needing to know that althought they are in isolation, they are NOT alone or forgotten.  572.  Wow!

Casey pj drive  Mrs. Amber and I drove down to the Casey Cares office with Sylvia and Evelyn and met with Dawn Weissman, other staff members, and some other Goddard School owners.  Then Dawn gave the twins each a bunny pillow pet and and a blue elephant to Blake, the little boy in the upper picture.

What a difference between serving to mark something off a list and serving because you sincerely want to help other people.

Love,

Sherri

Keep On Keeping On

Quote:  All four kids in school — what are you going to do with ALL THAT TIME?  (asked by like a gazillion people during the last week and a half)

Um.  Three days of pre-school is not really a lot of time.  Well, it is, but your baby didn’t sleep through the night once and suddenly you weren’t tired anymore.  A couple of days do not undo a year’s worth of waking up in the middle of the night.  Know what I mean?

Besides, I’ve got to GET those kids to school.  Let me show you what I’m dealing with here:

Grumpsters Diana and Chance got on the bus on Monday.  In the afternoon they ate my just-baked chocolate chip cookies grudgingly and answered every question with a ‘whatever’ and a ‘leave me alone.’
Tuesday the twins had their first day.  Sylvia got ready and then Evelyn came down wearing a dress.  I reminded her that she had to wear a pair of shorts underneath so nobody could see her panties.  Big fight.  Tears, even.  She goes up to change.  I’m grabbing lunch bags and making sure blankets and tier B lovies are packed.  (Tier A lovies Racoonie and Patches do NOT leave our house under any circumstances except sleepovers).  She comes down in the leotard and crown you see above. 
      I say “It’ll take too long to get that off if you have to go potty.”  She runs and hides under the dining room table.

 The bus took away the older two.  Sylvia is in and out of the back door and I think she has the keys.  “Fine.  I’m taking Sylvia.  I’ll be back,”  I say. 
She finally gives in.  We make it to school right before circle time.  I look through the pack of papers waiting for me in their cubby.  Then, in disbelief, I look around the room.  My kids are the only ones dressed.  It’s school-wide pajama day.  REALLY???  Of course my girls noticed immediately.

 I try to forget about it all during my yoga class; instead, I focus on the cracking and popping my body is doing as a reminder that it’s been way too long.

At home it’s time to break out the list of things I SHOULD HAVE done a long time ago, but didn’t.  Like fight through this insurance thing with the chemo. 
             Victory — It’s done.  After five weeks of denying the claim, insurance is paying for Evelyn’s chemo and it was delivered this morning.  Getting it into her….sigh.  That’s a fight for Monday night.  At least she takes the daily dose with no problem.
             Victory — a note that my story “Hand-Holding” has been accepted for publication by Third Wednesday.  Small check and copy forthcoming.  This was HUGE for me.
             Half-Victory — Last part arrived for audio studio.  Waiting for call back from teacher to install it. (Has he given up on me?)
             Half-Victory — Am going to AWP conference in Boston in March with writer friends.  Anyone else out there planning to go?  Here’s the link: https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/registration_overview
Pre-conference lunch is scheduled for October so we can all check in with each other.  It’s only a half-victory because the registration and hotel arrangements are still pending.
         Half-Victory — worked more on my shark story.  I wrote the first draft years ago.  I submitted it to my dream publication yesterday.  It’s been turned down twice by BIG speculative fiction outlets — the ones so big that you get your rejection notice before you’ve finished hitting the submit button.  No, that’s silly.  It takes about four days to be rejected by those guys  🙂  But I really like Abyss and Apex and it would mean A LOT to me if the story was placed there.  We’ll see.  It’s been almost twenty-four hours and no rejection yet.  Their site says three months to reply.

     I picked up our co-op share.  We’ll be having fresh lima beans tonight if I can figure out how to cook the little suckers.  Paid for school lunches on cafe prepay for Diana and Chance.  I really am going to try not to get those paper i.o.us sent home to me this year.  This morning the twins and I watched Alice in Wonderland — the old animated version — and I made their decaf iced coffees in their sippy cups.  My son has been asking me to buy him a Bible so maybe we’ll go to a bookstore before his soccer practice tonight.  Trying to think of ideas for Mike’s birthday.  Basically, we’re just keeping on keeping on. 

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!!! 

Cheers,
Sherri