Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First Days

Many moons ago it was time for Diana's first day of kindergarten. I walked her to the school with her sister and brother. I was not given to tears when Diana climbed the steps of the school to disappear inside. I had been looking forward to giving Calypso more one on one time since her sister would be in school during the afternoon while her brother would be taking a nap.

As soon as the school doors swallowed her sister Calypso became weepy. She trudged home dejectedly. I put Isaac down for his nap and returned to Calypso who was still looking more than a bit glum. I tried to perk her up by pointing out how we could have special time when she didn't have to share me with her siblings. I asked if she wanted to play games, read stories, draw pictures, get out dolls. Every suggestion was met with an utter lack of enthusiasm. Finally I asked if she had some other suggestion. She wailed miserably, "I miss my sister! I just want to watch TV and cry!" It was not exactly the afternoon of bonding I had envisioned.

A couple of weeks later she demonstrated the realization of the new potentials in her sister's daily absence. She tiptoed to me one afternoon and asked me to lean down to her as she looked over her shoulder to make sure there were no spies listening in (even though her brother was sound asleep and her sister was in school). She whispered, "I'd like to go play with all the toys Diana never shares. Is that ok?" I smiled as I whispered back, "Great idea. Have fun!" She skipped off very happily before bringing a few toys to share with me.

Until that point Calypso had been a very shy little girl. During the two years her sister went off to school before her she began to bloom into a more confident and outgoing kid. As much as she idolized her sister it was nice to see her have the chance to become her own person.

Flash forward to last week when we dropped Diana off at college. Again, I was not given to tears at the time (though I will admit to a lump in my throat two nights later when I set the dinner table with one less place). Calypso, however, began to well up as soon as the last unpacked item was put away. The tears flowed freely when she hugged her sister goodbye. She wept almost all the way home in the car and wailed once inside the house. She spent the next day curled up in Diana's bed, crying still. At one point after affirming her right to have any feelings she wanted, I also encouraged a bit of perspective by reminding her Diana was only at school, not dead.

The last couple of years in school for Calypso have been a bit trying. Part of that is related to her own personality and choices. I believe part of it is also due to living in her older sister's shadow. This year Calypso is in a new school where no one has ever known Diana. I'm hoping it gives her another opportunity to grow and develop a bit more of herself in the light and soil of new opportunities...even if it started out being watered by tears.

22 comments:

G-Man said...

Crying and missing someone is natural.
But WAILING?
That shit gets old real fast...
She's such an emotional child, I'm sure this new school will help grow and mature...
Hang in there Trini.....G

Jazz said...

You need to water the soil for the plant to grow. She's do fine, just like that last time.

EmBee said...

Oh what I wouldn't give for one of my kids to be this devoted to the other. Anytime Zak leaves town, to say, go visit Grandma, Sarah high-fives me. If he were going off to college, she'd probably do back handsprings.

Maybe it's a 'Sister' thing?

~Dragonfly~* said...

You've done a good job, Mom. Your children openly and honestly express their love for each other.

The first time I walked into my baby's empty room I lost it... I wailed for about 10 minutes... then I was over it! He was the third and last to go, after all. Empty-nesting isn't all that bad!!! It will get better.

DF

Desmond Jones said...

Very touching. . . I don't think any of my kids (or my own siblings, when I think about it) would react that way.

Even with eight kids, and five of 'em still living under our roof, there are lots of days now, when there's just Molly and me, and 8M around the dinner table; what with sports and band, and sundry other activities (and how come is it, that all this stuff can't happen at some time other than dinner time? Just askin'). Which is a little bit surreal for us, and a little bit sad. But we still get at least six, and sometimes all eight, of the kids, around the table for Sunday brunch, which becomes sorta the 'family time' highlight of the week. . .

Craver Vii said...

That's neat that she misses her and even cried for her. Freshman year of high school, I returned from a year away at boarding school. My youngest brother innocently said he "forgot to miss me." We always joke about that these days.

As for my mom, I bet she danced when I went away!

Moannie said...

Ah! The human condition. The pattern that continues to weave through the generations, and how we accept it as a natural consequence. I wonder...does every mother feel the same pangs? The Namibian mother, as her son leaves the grass hut to join the men for his 'manhood ceremony' The Australian Aboriginal mum when her daughter goes 'walkabout'? I bet they do...and like us, her sadness will be tinged with pride.

Lulda Casadaga said...

I'm sure she'll do just fine at the new school...I'm sending some good vibes for her...;)

Cocotte said...

Poor Calypso......we didn't notice any adjustment here for Middle Child until AFTER the Christmas Break. Then she was all weepy for a few days when College Daughter went back to school.

I guess you should be glad that they are so close! Many sisters can't wait for the other one to hit the road.

Mona said...

I hope it will help Calypso!

She seems quite sensitive, but really loving!

Suldog said...

I'll say a prayer for all involved. I'm sure everybody will end up quite happy after a while. With you as Mom, how could it not?

Ananda girl said...

I think its wonderful that they are that close. I'm a crier. She has my sympathy.

I enjoy hearing about your family and your solutions to life's problems. You have such a great attitude about things. No wonder your kids are so terrific.

San said...

Oh Michele, believe it or not, this brought back a memory of my own, quite distant childhood. Once I was mad at my pesky little sisters, who were almost five years my junior, and twins to boot. My mother told me in private, "I've heard them talking to each other while you're in school. 'I miss my San, I wish she was home.'" That surprised me and melted my heart. Later, when I left for college I went through a period of negligence in communicating with them. They were in that junior high phase, which is so hard for so many kids. I've always regretted being lackadaisacal about staying in touch with them at that time.

Here's wishing your Calypso much success in striking out on her own at the new school. And of course much success to your college girl Diana too. And much peace to your mother's heart as you start this latest phase of letting go. It's a mixed bag, this letting go. Celebrate the fact that your kids are growing into their own, gifting you with some newfound freedom. But when you have those sad moments, that's just normal. I still have them.

secret agent woman said...

I suspect in a couple of years when my first goes off to college, I'll be the one curled up on the bed crying.

~Tim said...

Didn't Diana leave some stuff behind that Calypso can play with now?

Seamus said...

Hmmmm Calypso, instead of toys not shared, maybe boyfriends? ;)

Enjoyed your architectural feature tour in the previous post! :)

BTExpress said...

My brother is four years older than me and I promise, I was always happy to get rid of him. He picked on me and treated me like crap. I can't think of one time we ever had a good time together. Hell, I don't remember even doing anything together unless it was with our parents. Maybe that's why we live just 20 minutes apart and have only seen each other a few times in the last 10 years.

for a different kind of girl said...

This is a beautiful post, and it's heartwarming to realize how tight the bond between your two daughters is. This could be an amazing year for both of them.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, that your daughters get to have you and your long-visioned wisdom as an example! So many moms are just THE WRONG PERSON for the daughters they have.

Not you. You give Calypso her room, a little hearing and support, a dash of "let's get real," and then you back off and let her shake herself out. Yes.

(M)ary said...

big grin here when i read about Calypso wanting to play with the toys Diana didn't share! i can just imagine Calypso's "aha!" moment.

Hilary said...

They'll each do beautifully. How about you? :) Sending best thoughts. Emptying nests are hard.

Malicious Intent said...

Oh, now I am crying. You are such a good mommy. My #2 is starting a new school, but my f'n mother screwed up the start. Doing damage control now, but diving right into the mix with the councilor and teachers and PTO. He will succeed! Or at least have every opportunity to do so without any stupid interruptions in his life.

Why do people do the stupid shit they do, especially to the people they are supposed to love and protect?