Not to be all Dear Diary or anything but Tuesday went better.

Lucien started his day off where he left things on Monday night, shrill. A litany of my wrongs tumbled from his mouth, namely, “Why didn’t you wake me up at six?” Uh, for this, seriously, why didn’t I wake you up at six? Anyway, he did the thing he can do: turned it right around and by the time he left for school he had apologized (somewhat) and thanked me for making him some toast and seemed genuinely in a different place.

Let’s stop and appreciate that right now he’s reading Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother. I think what he’s absorbed thus far is this: she’s a slacker mother and Michael Chabon is the real parent, and works less—and makes more money. I’m not sure this is what Ayelet was going for, but there you have the mid-read report as understood by a just-turned-teenager.

In the midst of lunches and bus money and simply getting the ninth grader up, the real nectar moment was this: Saskia was beginning her summer at preschool yesterday in her new classroom, the Middle Group. She was so excited about this big kid step. She chattered about new room and friends coming along and we wondered aloud where her new cubby might be. She was a happy, big three… exactly until we reached the front stairs to enter the building. Inside, she wore her body like a cuff around my leg. I had to disentangle after a few tries at cajoling her into activity.

And of course when I came to find her midday, she was happily jumping from a climbing structure with help from Johnny and taking turns with her pal, Zara. She peed in the tunnel. Other than that, all thumbs up was the report.


For survival’s sake, this week is a nap-free zone.

Saskia played, first impromptu with Elizabeth after we walked home together and next with Arella and then we went to Tuesday Market and then home and soon enough thereafter, bath and bed. Bed wasn’t short, but it was calm.

And while lying on her bed with me nearby she described how her friends were in the Middle Group and her new cubby was (she gestured in the direction) “right there” and how she missed her old teachers and her friend Raviv, who is much younger and how when she’s finished with the Middle Group she will return to the Younger Group.

Before that cozy moment, we were reading Kevin Henkes’ wonderful book, Owen, in which Owen is supposed to ditch his fuzzy blanket and his parents don’t know how to make him do it and he steadfastly refuses because the fuzzy blanket is working for him. Owen reminds parents that just because a child “should” be ready for something doesn’t mean the child is ready for that thing. It also reminds us that there are many ways to accomplish what the child needs—and what the parent needs (those parents needed their son to start school without accompaniment of the big fuzzy blanket). Read the book for their graceful solution, one the mama came up with after some good thinking.

Lucien ended up falling asleep on the green couch in the next room, chatting with me for a while in the dark—from a distance that worked for me while still close enough to work for him. In the middle of the night, he moved to his bed, it seems (more comfortable, I’m guessing). It was, I thought as we crafted the falling asleep moment (for both of us) a real Owen moment.

Sometimes, I am reminded—after having re-read my Monday misery in gray type—that beyond the lunacy of survival, there can be compassion and creative, even graceful living.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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