Photo: Q Dec 06, Union Square, NYC dancing to the light and sound holiday display. Auntie G is on the left watching.
I took yesterday off from work so that our social worker could come and conduct our home visit for our home study. I know a lot of people stress out over the home visit but we didn't. Our small very crowded house was relatively clean (she didn't stick to the dining room chair and there were fresh hand towels in the bathroom) but I didn't worry about making it look 'good.' I figure she's seen too many homes for me to get over on her on how well were keeping up with three very busy lives. It was a terrific visit as much of the information she gave us helped us finalize our request. We are going to request a child 12-24 months old, either gender. So that is that. She told us the waiting times are getting longer and while I would love to have our youngest child home now - today - I also believe very strongly in God's hand playing the most important role in all of this. Our child will come to us in good time.
Because I wasn't driving my usual 60 mile ride to work I was able to bring Q to school which was very special as it was a really big day for him. His wonderful school has a tv station run by the 4th and 5th graders and every morning the "Morning News" is shown on flat screen tv's in each classroom. Yesterday, was Q's deput on the morning news. It was an interview taped last week where he was asked to talk about how he rides his bicycle to school everyday with his dad. We stood outside the school with the dozens of other children and thier parents and I got to meet his new best friend a wonderful little boy who has a beautiful smile and a twinkle in his eye similar to Q's. I could see right away why Q liked him so much. When his teacher came out to collect her children I asked if I could stand in the back of the classroom and watch morning news. "Of course!" she said and so I got in the back of the single file line and walked in. Q was not in the line because he had broke ranks and ran in another door. Once in the building we walked about 10 feet and then turned to walk down a very long hallway. On either side of the hallway were first and second graders lined up and waiting for their teachers. The kindergartens were walked to their classrooms down the middle of what was the most adorable group of faces. Everyone was chattering but not loudly, kind of a low hum but everyone - 80 - 100 children were standing in an orderly way just laughing and talking and being delightful. It was great fun. At one point a little boy said "Wow, she's a really tall kindergartener!" about me and I heard a lot of giggles. As I entered the class room I found a spot along the back wall and watched 20 little children start their school day. First off every child needs to place thier lunch order. Those with lunches from home placed their lunch in a basket. Those with lunch money gave it to the teacher and then chose what they would have for lunch, the cold or the hot menu. Usually there is a picture of what is for lunch on top of a long strip of cardboard. Each child has a paperclip with their name on it. If they want the turkey sandwich they put thier paperclip on the strip with the sandwich picture. If they want the pasta with meat sauce they put their paperclip below that picture. Yesterday the pasta picture was missing. So as the teacher was taking lunch money, and saying hello and watching a child's magic trick she is saying over and over again, 'the hot meal is macaroni with meat sauce. No there is no picture today. Yes, there is meat in it. What's macaroni? It's pasta." And on and on. Meanwhile some children are going to thier desks (which are arranged in groups of 6 and set up in different areas of the classroom) and taking a book from the book basket that she's placed in the center of each table. Some children are putting thier afternoon snacks in the refrigerator, some are putting thier folders in the place reserved for folders and then putting their back packs away and one little boy is running in a circle on the carpet where they have circle time. The children are happy and animated but what really stood out is how responsible and orderly they all were. Organized chaos. I saw what Q loves about it. Meanwhile a couple of first graders keep sneaking into class and she warns them with great good humor that if they sneak in once more they may have to stay with her all day. They of course, sneak back in and she grabs their earlobes and wiggles them to their delighted giggles. One more child, maybe in 3rd grade came in to say hello and get a hug and then we were down to business. The children were in their seats and everyone had a book in front of them and was 'reading' the pictures and in same cases talking to their neighbor. And then the tv came on and the morning news started, complete with a lead anchor who announced each segment "and now to Louie Zagarilli for "on this day in history" or "and now to Clara Burke for today's weather." Then you would see Clara sitting in front of a large hand drawn sun telling us that today in B...we will see a few clouds but mostly sun. And now back to Zeke Tyler." "Thanks Clara," says Zeke. We watch a small segment of the 4th graders field trip to the river and the scientist explaining about the tides. And then comes the little brown bear. While he's introducing his segment some of the children are talking quietly throughout the classroom and the teachers softly shushes them but when they hear the bear say "my friend Q" all the whispering stops, all the rustling hands stop moving and all eyes are on the tv where they stay riveted for the 2 min Q is on the screen. I cannot see Q's face but I see his shoulders kind of shrink in as he watches. The children cannot believe that one of their own is on the morning news. For his part his interview is brilliant. Really. He speaks clearly and in a serious tone about the environment and how perhaps others could ride their bikes to school maybe once a week if they live close enough. The bear comes back says good bye and the screen goes black and all at once everyone starts talking "that was Q, that was Q. Q was on the morning news!" As he turned around to look at his teacher he had a look on his face I had never seen before. He was smiling so sweetly, and so proudly but there was something more. He had made his own self proud rather than Y or I. That's what it seemed like. Meanwhile the assistant principle had come into the room to find Q and tell him what a great job he did and asked him if he still rode his bike to school. I went up to him and kissed and hugged him and told him it was such a fun thing to be able to see that and then I walked out. He didn't say too much to me. This was his time with his classmates and teacher and principle and while he was glad I was there I was the outsider and he was with his peeps. I watched for a couple more minutes from the door. He could have seen me if he had turned his eyes my way but he never did. He continued to answer the principles questions and the rest of the class just hung on his every word for those few moments.
When trying to describe parenthood to soon-to-be parents I always, always fall short. There's the sleep (or lack of it), the laughter and the songs and the wonderful bed time stories and the middle of the night trips to the emergency room for the double ear infections. There's the fear that you're not doing enough or that you are in fact doing too much, protecting them when they really do need to get a bruised knee every once in awhile. But none of this describes parenthood. I think yesterday I finally had a realization about what is for me the defining thing about parenting Q. When he was born he took such a great portion of my heart right out of my chest that I sometimes have trouble breathing. When he was an infant this was not such a big deal because I carried him, my heart, with me where I went. As the years have passed more and more pieces of my heart are handed to him over time and as he begins to travel beyond my arm's reach I am at times frozen with a mix of fear and love. I watch him move in the world and it is my own soul that goes forward with him. There, there goes my heart, into the world and lately as he goes, he doesn't look back for me to see if I am watching him, to see if I love him. He knows he has my heart.