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Cathy: School days, school days, dear old….

Woe is me...first day of fourth grade

Woe is me...first day of fourth grade

I’m going to sound hypocritical here, but I’m humming the old tune as I practically push my boys out the door on their first day of school. I know I bemoaned their being out of the house when they were away at their father’s this summer, but this is different. They will be home by 2:45 and 3:45, respectively. So, I get to hum a little old fashioned tune if I want to.

September through October has always been my favorite time of year. It was even better over a lifetime in New England, because the weather matched the sense of the year for me. The breeze’s coolness crisped the air. It may seem backwards as the leaves are falling — a sense of death and inward withdrawal should be the prevailing sentiment; but for me, this time of year always represented a chance to start anew and the promise of rebirth. This is the beginning of Mother Nature’s gestation. This time last year was when I retreated to bedrest in my gestation of Baby C, who was born this past spring. I have two April babies out of three and it was those two pregnancies that put me to bed for the winter, for similar complications. So I feel a special kinship with Mother Nature as she folds into herself for her cycle of creation.

This is my golden time for creative endeavors. Almost every new project has come at this time of year. My ideas start hopping, and popping like my mother’s old percolator on the counter, and my rice krispies when it was my first day of fourth grade. Now it is my son S’s first day of fourth grade. But his sense is more of a woe is me. Here’s the picture to prove it. But I believe deep down he loves school as much as I did and denied it, as much as his eighth-grade brother K does the same. I know with his social difficulties because of his autism, that a school day is much more difficult for him than for most. The early days are the hardest because of the transition. However, he was outside to meet the bus twenty minutes before it was due to arrive. That says something, don’t you think?

Anyway, I am taking the precious time they are in school and while Baby C naps, to really commit to knocking out this manuscript. I started this project in the fall of 2004, it’s about time. I’ve yet to let it go as so many others, so I really should finish what I started. This one feels like a baby, too. So it’s time I start growing and feeding it well: give it a daily dose of work and play. It’s time for me to get back to the excitement of the first day of school, start fresh while the ideas are hopping. Since I’m in Southeastern Virginia now, I’ll metaphorically kick up a pile of leaves, since I won’t see real ones until a bit closer to Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jen #

    I don’t find htat hypocritical at all! Loved your post (esp the part about Mother Nature’s gestation) and best of luck to you!

    September 4, 2008
  2. Cathy #

    thanks, jen! good luck with tonight’s virtual trunk show!

    September 4, 2008
  3. cathy jennings #

    i’m with you on the sence of a new start in the fall. new shoes new experiences.

    and it is weird because we do kind of hibernate over the winter. i know i start to eat like a feind when the weather gets colder. the fall just segues into the winter.

    i really enjoyed your blog. very well put.

    September 4, 2008
  4. Cathy #

    thanks, cathy – new shoes, new experiences – how apropos! 😉

    September 4, 2008
  5. lovely post, cathy, and i agree with jen….not the least bit hypocritical! your 4th grader does look rather forlorn on that curb. 🙂 sounds like you’re right on track to get back to your manuscript. good luck to you!

    my girls are in their 3rd week of back to school but still adjusting since this is the first year for kindergarten and, therefore, “big girl school”. sarah seems to be adjusting well, but livvie still clings to me and cries every morning when i take them in. no fun for mama.

    i’ve always loved the fall and back to school time as well. for me, though, it’s less about renewal and more about college football season! 🙂

    hope you are feeling better miranda!

    September 4, 2008
  6. Cathy #

    thanks, kelly.

    when i sent k off to school originally i sent him off with a secret lipstick kiss on his belly, under shirt, before we left the house, so he’d know i was still with him. (he had some day care experience, too, but had difficulty with starting School) maybe try something like that for livvie?

    jen johnson posted in her blog about making a felt heart for her son this week, too, to carry in his pocket. good luck!

    September 4, 2008
  7. love both those ideas, cathy! i didn’t even think about something like that. good thought. my girls have been in daycare/pre-school/vpk since they were six months old, same school, so it’s just the change of school setting this year that’s got my little livvie. she struggled with changing classrooms every year up until this point, so actually changing schools has been really tough on her. she just does not like change!

    September 5, 2008
  8. Cathy #

    oh good, hope they help!

    uh-oh, winds picking up, better squeeze walk in before storm hits!

    September 5, 2008
  9. So what were the boys’ feelings about school by the end of the week–yay or nay?

    You haven’t had much time to settle into the new routine yet, but how do you think the creative thing is going to work with Baby C? Good so far?

    September 6, 2008
  10. Cathy #

    k is into it, but denial reigns. he’s a self motivated student who wants to get straight A’s and gets mad when he doesn’t. he’s happy to see his friends and be big man on campus in 8th grade. he never got to be that in elementary since we moved before 6th at old school and new district started middle school for 6th.

    s earns points per day for behavior and staying on task. day 1: 18/20…the rest of the week went downhill from there. can’t wait to see next week.

    i have been procrastinating queen. manuscript doc is open, but i’m stalling. i am writing chronologically, so figuring out from here to there, what’s necessary and what’s not is a toughie. it’s thanksgiving day and fav uncle has arrived from siberia, dinner is on table. do i need to have the whole family talk to each other? or can i skip ahead to after dinner, kid in room, pertinent scene i’ve been wanting to write since i started this project 4 years ago? it involves a telescope and either uncle or father or both, and a did you see that?

    any suggestions would be grand and taken into consideration.

    September 6, 2008
  11. Cathy #

    oh, re: creativity and baby c: her napping and night sleep sucked this week, but i still managed to pump out essay and blog. so, except for my overthinking on ms, i don’t she will interfere too badly.

    here’s something: we have a lot of allergies on both sides of family, so i am breastfeeding exclusively til 6 mos. she’s at 5 mos and huuuuungry. 3 weeks til cereal, will i survive sleep deprivation? will i get skinny? lol!

    September 6, 2008
  12. Cathy #

    my screen fortune cookie just said ‘do something creative everyday.’

    how did your (and everyone else’s) first week go?

    September 6, 2008
  13. Cathy,

    As far as your Thanksgiving scene goes, I would include details about Thanksgiving only if 1) the dinner (food or conversation) itself is remarkable in some way or 2) something happens or is said during the course of dinner that naturally segways into your big scene. I will admit my writing style is pretty sparse, but as my playwriting instructor used to say (with emphatic stamp and fosse jazz hands) “Make me move! Make me feel! Take me somewhere!”

    If the scene in your mind is just a boring Thanksgiving, give it a paragraph. We ate food. It was good. I was stuffed. Then move on to the fun stuff. You can always come back and write more later if the scene needs fleshing out, but at least you won’t have wasted time writing something you don’t need.

    September 8, 2008
  14. Cathy #

    thanks, brittany! that is extremely helpful!

    sometimes the obvious is right in front of you isn’t it? your advice is similar to what i’ve given my students in the past. how easy it is to forget to apply it to our own writing, eh? i’ve already spent a lot of writing on the dinner prep, anticipation of visit and dread of overhanging dilemma at school during dinner prep. time for me to get to the ‘meat’ of the story.

    September 8, 2008
  15. I agree that it is often a challenge to adhere to one’s own best writing advice!

    You might also sit back and let your characters run the show — if they are people in their own right at this point, and your story is at least in part character-driven, they will probably know what needs to happen next in your story, even if you don’t!

    September 8, 2008
  16. And Cathy — I too am committed to the 6 months of 100% breastfeeding. But my little porker is 18 pounds at 4 months. I remember going to La Leche meetings with my second child, and a few women there advocated breast-only for the first YEAR. Their kids looked fine, but I’m like…this baby is ravenous! Maybe they had magic milk or something. I’m with you — the weeks ahead sure look daunting (and notably lacking in sleep).

    I’m hopeful that this week — our first week of “real” school — will show new creative promise at this house, too 🙂

    September 8, 2008
  17. Cathy #

    thanks, miranda! it is character driven, but i hit a wall. since the next thing should happen after dinner, i think i’ll just head there. hopefully today, after dr visit for a mystery rash on s. i really hope i can send him off to school after that appt.

    thanks for commizz on commitment breastfeeding. i love la leche, but some of the moms are a bit gung-ho for me. a year?! yikes!

    September 8, 2008
  18. Sheesh ladies… you can make it six months? I’m counting down the days til I can start kiddo on real food. I still intend to breastfeed him indefinetely, but I don’t want to have to feed him all day. Oddly enough, he’s not nearly as ravenous as Sam was at this age…

    Also, if he’s going to struggle eating solids, I want to know while we’re going to physical therapy. Would you believe last weelkhe was diagnosed with plagiocephaly (a flat spot on his head) that needs to be monitored and might result in a band/helmet and cranial reshaping. ARGH!

    When will it end?

    September 8, 2008
  19. Cathy #

    good luck, brittany!

    September 8, 2008
  20. Aww….the poor little guy!

    September 8, 2008

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