I'm sitting here at the dojo this morning, alone and peaceful. I'll leave here in a little over an hour to pick up Scott from school. Fridays are half-days for him. This was his first week of school, and he's in a new classroom, with a new teacher. The classes are multi-grade at this school, and he 'graduated' from a kingergarten thru 2nd grade room to a third thru fifth. The older children look SO much older. They have the routine down solid--walk into the room. Check the whiteboard for their instructions on what to do before their adviser, Rob, comes. This is usually a 4-step process, and is an important part of self-orientation. Scott's reading has improved a great deal, but he's still not a functional reader--relating what's an abstraction, symbols, on a board, to himself. He looks pretty lost.
Yesterday he was pretty unhappy when I picked him up. His best buddy had not been there because that class had gone on a field trip. Scott's class had gone the day before, and so the novelty of the day had sustained him. Yesterday he was confronted with the reality of his now unfamiliar school environment, and his friend was gone. It's also an adjustment that he and this friend are now in different classrooms and this is by design.
I emailed his teacher, and got back a note that said that yesterday had been a stressful day in the classroom. He said the first weeks often were for the new grades integrating. Apparently other children were acting out their angst more overtly because Scott mentioned that one of his third grade classmates had been "screaming in the hall. And it hurt my ears."
I discovered accidentally that putting him on a swing, or tire swing and spinning him seems to be a winning coin in a slot machine. He talks. Tuesday night I allowed myself to be persuaded to drive with Gary and the boys to Connor's school playground to watch the sunset. I immediately got drafted into spinning Scott on the tire swing and I almost refused. I really wasn't in the mood, but this was when I discovered the connection. He started talking about "hearts," "maps" of hearts, how he'd put me, his father, the dog and cat (not Connor!) in one when he drew it.
excavator to Rob:
Last night we went over to a local park. While Scott was on a tire swing he starting talking about hearts, and bridges between hearts, and love. I asked him what had made him think about this and he said, "I taught it at school, today." So it sounds like there was some sort of discussion along these lines? I'm just curious if he'd participated much in class. Because he was certainly running with it last night. He was pretty engaged with the whole concept.
Rob to ex:
Subj: Re: Hearts
Wow, that is really great. We have actually been doing some mediation in the morning and I did talk about the power of the heart and focusing on the heart. I don't remember talking about love, but perhaps that came up in other conversations. He (along with many of the other new kids) are just trying to get adjusted to the class and while he doesn't offer up much in the larger group, he does seem to be there with us. He is probably absorbing quite a bit. Tell me more about the conversation?
Rob to ex:
Subj: Re: Hearts
Oh, now I remember. We were talking about mapping our hearts. We drew pictures of our hearts and then filled them with the things we love or are passionate about. It was a way to start thinking about what kinds of things kids want to spend time doing.
Connor is well ensconced in his classroom at school. This is a small country-like school perched on a ridgetop that overlooks the coast range mountains--hence the appeal of going over to watch the sunset. (Their mascot is the Eagle.) Over the past 3 years they have been adding a middle school grade until last year when they graduated their first 8th grade class. So it is now officially a k-8. Connor's class with be the third 8th grade to graduate. 1997 must have been a prolific year, because from his 2nd grade on he has been part of a bulge moving through the school system. While the class immediately ahead of him is extremely small, about 16 kids, his is over 30 students. I'm dismayed, but he doesn't seem bothered at all. He says he likes it that way. It is a close-knit group, just one 7th grade class.
Gary helped a company with a project over the summer that involved a trip to Asia. It appears he has changed tactics in his search for work and instead of seeking traditional employment he's going to pursue hiring himself out as a private contractor. Over the years that he had his own business (when I met him) and then worked for the St. Louis companies and his most recent job, he developed a lot of contacts interfacing with the factories and suppliers. He's in a good position to represent these people to manufacturers, and I think he's going to mine this resource. This may work really well for him, because he has a low-key persona that people trust and like. It's like he's born with some of the personal characteristics that the salesperson gurus encourage would-be sellers to cultivate. This will also free him to work on projects that interest him and give him the independence he's missed. So if the economy improves, he should do well. Of course, it means a less reliable paycheck.
The garage is essentially done. What remains are the niggly leftovers that the builders don't seem too eager to come and complete. We also need to come up with some kind of shelving system so there's a place to put all the garage-things that continue to languish within the walls of the living spaces. Gary seems to have run out of steam on this too, but he's been working hard to prepare for his new venture. He has some plans for developing what was going to be the shed-like lower level storage area in the garage into office space.
Having him working from an office at home is a big change for me. It was less noticeable over the summer break because we were both working very hard on the house. If he's able to find an income we may later look back on this time as having been fortuitous that he was laid off when he was since it gave us the time to tend to that enormous task. Now that the boys are in school he's focused on the "chalice"--my writing time. He continues to be unaware of how I've structured the work of the home around the time that the boys are away so I have this time clear to write. He sees me in the chair with the computer and sees this as "all" I do. He doesn't see that the image of me in the chair is created by the effort I make outside of that chair, to create that shape and space. The house functions so well that its functioning disappears as the currency of "work". He doesn't see the details, and the mass of them, that is takes to create the blank background against which me-in-chair appears. He doesn't know when the boys' meetings at schools are, when medication needs to be refilled and how far in advance the doctor's office must be called in order for the prescription to be written in a timely way so that I can pick it up or have it mailed so I can get it to the pharmacy so it can be stocked and filled before our supply runs out. He doesn't know when Scott's glasses are broken and how to coordinate a trip to the optometrist with school pick-up because the glasses have to be adjusted to the size of his head...none of these things sound like much in and of itself, which is why I have a hard time when I attempt to justify that I am not 'just sitting around' on his dime. It's the mass of these details, and the intimate acquaintance with them, which is a part of the skill that I bring as contribution, and I am perfectly entitled to my writing time. I'm done with justifying my existence and instead go to the dojo when he is home. Then I don't have to shake off the feeling that every moment I am in the chair is confirming something to him.
The owners of the dojo have been kind enough to offer me work I can do in exchange for a monthly membership here. There are things I miss about writing in my own home, which I love, but this is an entirely acceptable substitute.
I had had a hope that he and I would not be going through another Christmas season as a (in name only) married couple. I don't think I'm going to meet that self-imposed deadline. Merry Thankoween time is not a good time to introduce divorce when there are kids in the equation. Other uncertainties have to do with Scott's adjustment to his new classroom at school and the fact that their after-care provider just resigned. If Gary is going to be operating from a home office there's the possibility that he can share in taking Scott to school and pick-up, but his job will probably entail travel. These are important details to work out, and clouded with uncertainty right now. I'd had a vision that the boys live full-time in the house, with Gary and I rotating from either some other place we share (buy a condo? rent an apartment?) or not. This could be complicated by his basing his office/business at our house. Even if the "office" is fairly isolated from the house, on days it's "my turn" to rotate, would I feel comfortable knowing he's there? There's still the possibility that we create a separate space somewhere within the premises themselves and so live 'separately' under the same roof, and avoid the expense of a 2nd (or 3rd) domicile. If I was employed, and with the use of the dojo, we could probably effectively separate ourselves even within the same house and life wouldn't look much different to the boys than it does now.
So far Gary refuses to engage any discussion about divorce, separation, and how we're going to cooperate to make this work in a way that's best for the boys. I think I'm going to have to pull this train by myself; if anything happens it will be through my efforts. The mystery is, will he come along quietly, or will it be hard.
If I was employed...at the memorial service for a friend of mine who used to be a coworker long ago I ran into another former coworker who says the company she works for needs help. I'm wary of this company because it's for-profit--responsible to share-holders. It's a national chain, but fairly new in this city. Therefore, it has not developed the critical mass it takes to become a well-functioning outfit and has a lot of growing pains. There is an on-call agency here that needs help, and I'm thinking that when I'm ready to seek employment that will probably be the direction I go.
Scott's school needs a lot of help. One criticism I've had of it is that it seems to attract a lot of free spirits, grasshopper types, and not a lot of Little Red Hens (who do the work of baking the bread, and have problems finding people'll help, but no problems finding someone to partake in the benefits). I can't criticize those who have benefited from the hard work of the small core of parents who are the ants, since in a way I've been among them. In the year and a half that I've had Scott there it seems that there are the same people over and over who run the fund raisers and do the very difficult day-to-day work to make this school function. It has a great vision, but not a very large base from which to accomplish it. It's a vicious cycle because people like me who see such huge need may also, like me, be turned off by the fear that when I approach to help I'll be sucked into this under-resourced whirlpool of need and be one of those few ants that everyone else lets do all the work. The teachers and administrators, and the parent workers, run entirely on altruism. Teachers are penalized for being there; since it's a charter school they don't get the same public-school funding the regular schools do. They are there for the vision of creating a democratic school, which produces self-directed, independent-thinking, responsible, and contributing people. And they want to do it by having a curriculum that is NOT one-size-fits-all, is humane, and respects the differences of each child.
It's weighing on me that it's becoming time to step up my contribution.
So I have all these pieces. I know I'm getting a divorce. I know Scott's school needs help, and probably Connor's too, for that matter. I'll probably need employment and there are some choices. The option for working for an on-call agency has some drawbacks, since I'd be going to various sites and having to learn their logistics over and over again. There's also the uncertainty as to whether or not they could keep me employed consistently enough to make a living. Still, it would be a good gradual re-entry, and I have some hopes for some work opening up in the future that I could give myself more fully to. A friend of mine I used to work with in home care works for them, and it sounds like good, heart-fulfilling work. I don't know how my employment, the possibility of travel with Gary, and two young children at two different schools will fit; I don't know how the dwelling situation will fit.
I do think it's very likely that I'll be hosting Christmas again this year, and going through one final act of living an outside that doesn't match my inside.
Nearly two years ago when I began to write this blog the variables and choices filled me with despair. I had no idea how to reconcile them, and they all seemed to be in conflict. It's odd how in a lot of ways that hasn't changed, but in other ways, it has. I feel happy, and optimistic for the future. And that doesn't seem to depend on knowing how this is all going to unfold. And, since I am entirely medication-free, I know there is no chemical source for this.
And, in terms of the message of Clair-cognizance, I would guess that means I'm on the right path.