It’s been a week, yes it has. I’d like to say that life is crazier than ever, but of course that would be a lie. Life is as crazy as ever is more accurate. This week brought some new things – a birthday, Election Day, changes at work – but truth-be-told, while the specifics may vary, the effect remains the same. Yes, this week was crazy, but it was, really, just another week, unique and common, long and fleeting, quiet and loud. Like yours. Like many, many others.
It is easy to get sidetracked on a week like this. Jeremy celebrated a birthday this week, a year-before-a-big-one birthday. It is fun to celebrate things with Jeremy because he is easily happy, a trait I hope I can pick up from him over time. I’m not painting him as anything but human here, though, (or myself as unhappy, for that matter.) He comes home from his kindergarten classroom with some pretty sad stories, at times, or with a tale of a kiddo that some would find unbelievable. I might have had trouble believing some of them myself, once, chalking them up to embellishment. Having had more opportunities over the last few years to spend time in their classrooms, though, I have been able to experience some kindergarten feats for myself. I can tell you, for instance, that kindergarten students do, in fact, just up and fall off their chairs in the middle of a task for no reason whatsoever, something I had chalked up as a kindergarten version of a tall tale. That they occasionally wear their shoes on the wrong feet for as long as it takes for somebody to notice. That they don’t, in fact, know how to get back to their classroom, even when they solemnly tell you that they do. That some of these little people carry enormous baggage that they don’t fully understand, which is sometimes a blessing, and that most adults would find unbearable. That they can break your heart and lift your spirit almost simultaneously. Yes, kindergarteners are amazing little creatures who produce hilarious, shocking, inspiring stories. Jeremy’s story of the week this week was a new one for both us, though, and, unfortunately, not shareable here, but suffice it to say it was a “Well, THAT never happened to me before,” moment that was highlighted by a very creative use of a profanity mash-up. Oh, how I wish I could tell you!
In any case, back to Jeremy. One of the many things I love about him is his ability to be in and of the moment. Yes, he certainly has his stressors, and yes, he gets caught up in “stuff,”- he is human and flawed, as we all are. (He leaves his dirty clothing scattered everywhere, for instance…but that’s another blog post.) Nevertheless, he has a wonderful ability to look past the things that I struggle to, to let them go and find happiness and fun and light in a 10 minute conversation with Neighbor Dan, the Dirty Old Man, or a tug-of-war with the dogs, or a silly, old movie he comes across while surfing the channels. It’s not that his worries go away, but rather that he leaves them behind, for a few minutes or a few days, and gets on with seeing the forest rather than worrying about the damned trees.
Celebrating Jeremy’s birthday turned out to be pretty easy, despite me. Wednesday evening, he made his own birthday cake which he took to school, along with a jug of cider, to share in the faculty room. He also made mini-cupcakes for his class, each little cup of carrot-cake (“Bunnies’ favorite cake,” he told his students,) topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting and single kernel of candy corn (Jeremy reports that the kiddos ate them in reverse order…pop the candy corn in the mouth, lick off the frosting, and then tentatively taste the suspicious vegetable-based cake…) It made him exceedingly happy to do these things, and me exceedingly happy to witness. I was able to get him a gift in one stop, unusual for me, something he had admired when we were shopping together a few weeks ago. Once I remembered him noticing this item, there was no agonizing, no searching and wondering if “this” was enough or “that” was too boring. When we saw the gift earlier, he said, “I love that!” It’s not extravagant, not antique, or rare, or something I would have bought myself. But it makes him happy, and so it makes me happy. On his birthday, we went to dinner at a favorite local restaurant and ended up sharing a table with one of his former students, (who is now in second grade and clearly has a mad crush on Mr. Young,) and her parents, who have become good friends to us and who were celebrating their anniversary. And it was lovely, relaxed, and fun. Last night we had a birthday dinner at his parents’ home, with nephews Finley and Maddix, perhaps the best gift he (we) could have hoped for, and it was pure joy to watch him play with Finley, who adores his Uncle “Sher,” “J” being a challenging sound for Finley at the moment. It was Jeremy who said to me last night, “I know you are tired, but can we stay a little longer…?”, a request I couldn’t – and wouldn’t, and didn’t want to- deny. (I am less and less a night owl as I get older, which Jeremy has accepted, luckily, and it was getting to my typical drowsy time.) So we stayed, and played, and cooked, and celebrated a birthday in, perhaps, an unusual way, and I eventually brought home a very happy, very tired, very special man, and left a very happy, very tired, very special Finley Owen with Frammy and Pappy Ed.
And so, what I might have turned into a stressful Birthday, working to make it SPECIAL, turned out to be a special birthday, just because, no trumpet fanfares or sky-writing required. Because a crazy week at work, an election, and stuff got in the way of what “might have been,” but was never necessary. Because I saw it through the eyes of a man who sees promise and possibility where I might see worry and caution. Through the eyes of an adorable second-grader who cherished a chance to simply be close to a beloved teacher. Through the eyes of a nephew who found joy in dancing in the kitchen wearing a construction paper hat and casting spells with a pencil, and who saw love looking back at him wherever he looked. When I stopped looking, I saw it, through others’ eyes. I saw the forest. And it was beautiful.