Endings and Beginnings and Staying the Same

Since we’ve been home from holidays, it seems like we’ve shifted into high gear.

The summer is over, for all intents and purposes. Let’s face it, the summer weather here in downtown southern Ontario has been absolute crap. Rain or humidity, that’s all there has been. So, aside from when we were out of the province, it never actually FELT like summer. It’s almost as if summer never actually happened.

Perhaps that’s why it has been so easy to just pick up and go this past week. We’ve been on the move almost every day, with things to do and appointments to keep. And BDH being back to work, and back on call his first week, has been a bit of a kick-in-the-pants reminder that SUMMER IS DONE TIME TO GET YOUR GAME FACE ON.

A big motivator has been that school is now two weeks away, so we’ve been getting back into That Girl’s therapy appointments in a big way, trying to ramp up for the start of grade one. And, with that, we’ve also been doing some homework practice to help improve Stinkerbelle’s fine motor skills, doing lots of reading so that when the time comes for phonics and reading she’s in the thick of things, and polishing up work on numbers and patterns.

But we’ve tried to have some fun, too. We went to the library to get books, and went for a Fun With Science-type class where the 4+ crowd got to learn about airplanes. (And, not meaning to brag, but… Stinkerbelle won the paper airplane segment. It helps that her mom learned to make paper airplanes as a kid.) We’ve gone out and bought yarn and supplies and I made her a Rapunzel wig, complete with braid down to the floor (well, it’s mostly done… some refinements need to be made). We’ve started baking in preparation for school lunches, testing out things like pumpkin bread as potential lunch box staples.

And as for me, I’ve been doing the back-to-school shopping, for clothes and shoes and backpacks. Well, I’ve been shopping online anyway — I don’t like being out With People, so I have placed my orders online and, if we find that anything else is required, I can go out and hit the mall once the rush dies down.

I’ve also been researching That Girl’s extracurricular activities for the school year, trying to find affordable and fun options for her, since registration is next week for many programs. Swimming lessons are non-negotiable, which is fine because she loves swimming. Karate looks like a possibility, and the one that seems to interest her most. I looked into track and soccer, which seem to be summertime things, and gymnastics (too expensive) and dance (at a lot of studios, their hair-in-a-bun restrictions are fine for white girls, but almost impossible for a little black girl with as much hair as Stinkerbelle has).

Plus, with work, yardwork and housework, doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, blah blah blah… the end of the summer holiday is positively flying by.

Stinkerbelle is excited, and a little bit nervous, to get back to school. She’s excited because she loves school, and nervous because of the change in familiar faces. It’s the age-old feeling of butterflies at the prospect: What if I don’t know anyone? Will my new teacher be nice? What if the other kids don’t like me? I have been assured that That Girl’s two main bullies will not be an issue next year, in different classes and one, I believe, possibly even transferring to a different school. So that’s hopeful news.

Still, I think she’s remembering the stress of last year and is feeling apprehensive. So I have been trying to reassure her that she’ll be able to make new friends and not have to worry about ill treatment (at least, not right away, I say to myself). And hopefully, with lessons learned from kindergarten, she will have enough self-confidence to stand up for herself, or at least a little bit more than she did last year.

And, if I am completely honest, I’m feeling a more than a little bit nervous about that stuff myself. Watching my sweet girl be mistreated, and dealing with it every day towards the end of the school year, had me tied in knots a little bit too. Going to school should not be a stressful thing. It would be nice to start fresh and have her find some nice friends right off the bat. She’s such a sweet, kind girl — she deserves good friends who treat her well.

Until that happens, I’m going to be feeling the nervous butterflies in my stomach too, I think.

But we still have two weeks. Between now and then, despite all the appointments and preparations, I hope we will have time for some fun times to finish up the summer. Hopefully we will be able to have a movie night this week and take Stinkerbelle to a movie. Maybe we’ll take her out to a restaurant for supper, because she loves that. Or maybe we’ll get some reasonable weather and we can get her bike out and let her ride it around the schoolyard. Maybe we can go to the park to play, or get the chalk out and colour up the sidewalk. The summer has been so crappy, she’s had precious little of the freedom to run and play that I remember as a child.

If I were to make a confession, writing all these things down right now has made me feel more than a little bit angsty. On a number of levels. So perhaps back to school time is going to be good for me as well, to get back into a routine, get settled down, and breathe.

Then again, the forecast for fall according to BDH is continued wet, crappy weather, to go along with our September of doctor’s appointments, surgeries, more therapy, work, and home improvement projects. So perhaps it will be a case of the more things change, the more they will remain the same.