So many firsts in a day. My husband’s first day back to work. Our first day back to school. Our first month without Tiggy.
I really didn’t plan it that way. I just sort of felt like doing school so I told the kids we would. I wasn’t thinking about the date, but I’m not sure it really matters. How do you decide when to start picking up the pieces of your life after it has been shattered?
But the fact is, I needed to do school.
I finished planning my garden.
I finished writing out my gardening calendar. For the whole year.
I tried crocheting a pair of baby booties, but apparently counting stitches is beyond my current mental state.
So I went through my seeds to see what I need to order.
I’m pacing. Continually pacing. Whether physically from room to room, mentally from project to project or virtually from Facebook to Twitter to email, I’m pacing. I need something to slow down and focus my thoughts.
We needed to do school.
I had no great plans for the day. Last week I had a shadow of a thought about how to transition back to our normal school routine, but it all required so much planning. And thought. And concentration.
So we started with a little meeting and a prayer and dived into spelling. The program we’re using is scripted. It takes no planning. No thought. No concentration. Just dealing with a little complaining from children who have had no schoolwork and very little structure for a month.
OK, actually it took a lot more than that. It took all of my energy to watch my daughter form contractions from the words I put on the board.
Not once did I have to stop to go get a toddler off the table.
Not once did I have to catch the easel after a car raced into it.
Not once did I have to wrestle tiles from chubby little fingers.
Not once were we interrupted and it took all of my energy to keep going through the silence.
Fortunately, I had no great plans for the day. So I showed them a picture of the tree a friend I’ve never met is planning on sending us. A beautiful Japanese flowering cherry. We looked at it. We read about it. We thought how nice it would be to have a picnic under it along with the butterflies and bumblebees of early spring. And then I had another thought.
A lot of people have suggested a memorial garden as a beautiful place to sit and think about Mattias. As much as I like the idea, I’m not sure it is the best for us. I fear it would become overrun with weeds. We’ve purposely stayed away from ornamentals because I have enough work with homeschooling, the animals and our vegetable garden. And after the peace lily incident. . .well, suffice it to say that I’m not sure I could handle his little memorial garden succumbing to my lack of diligence in weeding. Or to the scratching of chickens.
But a memorial playground — that sounded like something we could do. So I gave them all a sheet of butcher paper to draw up their dream playground. Their plans are full of all sorts of things that will never be, from Bear’s church to Mouse’s tree house to Bug’s talking flowers. But they all contained a few ideas I think may be. Some day. Over time.
I picture a pathway in a large circle bordering the whole area where the children can skate and bike with the tree in the center. There’s a sandbox and a stage, a picnic table and some swings, a slide and maybe even a small basketball court. Maybe we can build a clubhouse, or maybe we can just plant sunflowers for a sort of sunflower house grown new every year.
There’ll be places to play and places to sit, places to romp and places to reflect. What better memorial can there be to the life of a toddler? And what better place for a family with small children to go to remember him?
And so we ended our first homeschool day. Nothing much planned, but a lot accomplished.