Wednesday, September 28, 2011

family night

We stand around and take in the room. Or rather, I stand around and take in the room. The jobs, the traffic light, the pictures of little names painted with dots and stripes, the paper dolls holding hands across the side of the room. I am standing in front of a tiny desk with papers that say "Bea's Family."

Do you think we have to sit in that little chair? 

There is a man standing next to me, smiling. He is also flying solo at Family Night, which comforts me. Our babysitter couldn't make it, and we had no one else, so Sam stayed and I went.

Yes. I was waiting for someone else to do it first.

The dad chuckles. Then we spend the next few minutes shuffling uncomfortably, looking around the room at our kid's names. Turns out we are sitting right next to each other, or girls sit right next to each other.  The teacher begins the presentation about pre-kindergarten and what they do here.

This year is about socialization.

For Beezus or for me? I think.

Beezus seems to be fine, comes home every day with new stories of her friends. I, on the other hand, have very rarely interacted with other parents in the four years since she came into the world. I stay home with the kids, play with my nieces and nephews, hang out with my crafty sister. But every day, I walk to the school to pick Beatrice up and drop her off. I wait with the other moms. Recently, I have been chitchatting and it feels okay. Some moms are seasoned, others new school moms like me. I ask the seasoned moms advice on school stuff, and commiserate with the other moms who are going through all of this for the first time too. Some days it is easier than other, but I want to fit into the group of parents more than I wanted to fit in during high school. Maybe fitting in isn't the right phrase. I just want not be noticeable as weird or kooky or grieving or anything. I just want it to be about Beezus. I don't want any parent to think, "But her parents seem weird."

After the presentation, I go to a wall of sheets with interview questions. The questions are what do you want to be, what is your favorite toy, what would you do with a million dollars. One kid writes that he wants to be a priest. I live in a place with a lot of Catholics, but it still surprises me. One kid writes that he wants to be an adult. My daughter writes that she wants to be a doctor. Her favorite animal is a giraffe and if she had a million dollars, she would want ice cream. I would recognize the answers if it had no name on the paper. But it does, large across the top:


They call her Bea here. The teacher, all the kids. We call her Bea too, but mixed in with Beatrice, and Beezus and Bea-triche, and Buzz and Bumble Bee. And I realize that her name is her own, she can be called what she chooses, she can become whoever she chooses. The mountain climbing doctor with an all-girl punk rock band called Shark. Man. Attack.

I thought this part of parenting would be so difficult, watching her go out into the world, but I find it so beautiful and comforting that she knows what to do. This week, she is the Line Leader. She pushes her shoulders back, and raises her head, and walks straight away without a wave or a blown kiss. The other kids need her, and she takes it seriously. In the midst of grief and loss and anxiety and fear, we have given her something beautiful and gentle and kind to carry into the world. It is a line of qualities that surprises me, and warms me, and gives me faith in the human spirit.


  1. Oh Angie, it's a huge, huge deal when they leave us, just a little. I remember the day my eldest started pre-school and the blubbering mess that I was when I left him.

    After Emma died, my eldest was in full time school and my second was in pre-school and everything changed. I was always one of the last to collect my child because I didn't want to interact with any other parent. I've had to relearn how to be a parent at the school gate.

    But, my children ... my goodness, they were amazing - just like your Bea.

  2. Oh, how I can relate to the "fitting" in part! I spent the past 14 years doing so and thought I had it down.

    Now my oldest is in high school and feel like I have to do it with him all over again.

    Not to mention the newest button. I will be that old lady that has kids in college and one in kindergarten. I am sure they will wonder about the 9 yr gap, when all I can think is that it should have been a 6-7 year gap with my daughter....

  3. Love this, Angie. Thanks for sharing it here. She's amazing, your Bea.

    Socializing with other parents is something I worry about a lot. It's nice, if scary, to know that she's in control of her own social life - she's better at it than I am.

  4. I have such a hard time at these things. Like you said, you want it to be about Bea. And I want it to be about Meadow and Lennon. But at the same time, I see all these parents that I haven't seen since Holden died and they look right through me. They won't speak to me. I've become diseased. I suppose I don't WANT to fit in anymore. I've always been that weird working mom who's husband stayed at home (my ex). Now I'm that weird working mom with one dead baby.
    But the girls... oh the girls make it so much easier. It's still not easy. But they talk so openly about their brother I think, "Why am I so afraid?" And I actually taught them that, that it's ok to talk about Holden, because he IS a part of our family and we will love him forever no matter what. But it's so hard for me. I get those looks. And I am afraid that as my children grow, so will their friends, and they will grow into little versions of their parents, who don't want to hear about Holden anymore.
    I suppose it will have to be good enough to let them know that home is always a safe place to talk about ALL of our feelings. And that no matter what other people think, they have every right to talk about their brother.
    PS LOVED all the fb videos!

  5. Aw, this post made me smile with that emotional teary kind of happy smile. :) Such an exciting time!

  6. :) Sorry Angie, I have no words but I have a big smile. Yay for Beezus. xx

  7. Your pride in her just shines through. : )


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