The kids are back in school after their year-end break: Isla in a new class at kindergarten, and Auden, suddenly, impossibly, a First Grader. He barely made the cut-off date, starting just days after his 6th birthday.
Now he walks to and from school with a group of other kids in the neighborhood. Even though we've been inching toward this kind of independence -- by sending him to the corner store for tea and snacks, and by not having heart attacks when he walks to the park by himself -- I am still finding it almost preposterous that we have reached this stage. I'm guessing the stomach roiling subsides after a while?
Isla likes to run around outside too, and hide in the narrow spaces between houses, in doorways, in the maze of narrow streets around our house. When I find her, she squeals with laughter, looking mischievous and triumphant.
This is probably the safest place we could possible live, but I still have to fight a rising panic when I'm not entirely sure where they are.
The other day they packed their carry-on suitcases full of toys and wheeled them out to the street, stopping at one friend's house, and then another, which I didn't discover until after I had gone full bore, riding my bicycle through the neighborhood, calling their names.
What kind of double-edged sword is this, anyway? The minute they stop needing me at their side every minute, I become freakishly masterful at conjuring catastrophic What-Ifs.
Here they are, discussing their plans to travel to Bulgaria.
I want them to have this freedom, I want them to discover things on their own... Especially here, where they own what they find in a different way: words, connections, patterned pottery shards embedded in the concrete on the road to the park.
I suspect there's no other way to offer this except to practice as we go. So if you want me, kids, I'll be in the kitchen not having heart attacks.