As of tomorrow, 3rd & K

Suddenly, we've got a 3rd grader and a kindergartner on our hands. Granted, the boys obviously aren't old; for pete's sakes, they aren't even in middle school, but I start to have real and vivid memories around the age Jack is now, and I certainly remember clear snippets of third grade. So, long story short, tomorrow's start of school seems, in some ways, big. And different. As if he's started down a new path. One that little Ol just isn't on yet. (Thank goodness). We spent our Labor Day reviewing just what we were having a holiday for (because really, no parent whose kids haven't yet started school needs a holiday; they need school to commence; stat.) and making our way down to The Big Maze installation at The National Building Museum. Eighteen feet tall at its highest point with a 60' x 60' square footprint, The Big Maze, inspired by labyrinths and old English garden mazes, is, simply, fun. The outer perimeter marks the high point of height; each subsequent, interior perimeter sinks slightly lower. When you reach the center, you can view the walls around you as they grow up and away. The maze is built of maple plywood and in certain spots, because of the Building Museum's gorgeous skylights, it is positively aglow.

We went through as a team, in pairs, having spun and "lost" Jack before following his lead and pretty much every variation of all that. After ten or twelve trips through, excited calls of "dead end! No, this way!" clanging all around us, we finally tired, broke for lunch and then headed home for a lazy afternoon.

T gave the boys haircuts, we picked out their outfits for tomorrow, I read to them from Winnie-the-Pooh, we studied the remaining fish and took bets on Lightning Strike being the next loss, should death visit our aquarium again, had more snacks, more stories, more kisses and finally, sleep.

I just went in to kiss the boys again, marveling anew at how such utterly kinetic beings can become so peaceful and still in just minutes. I donned a latex glove, taped it at my wrist so as to keep my bandaged pinky dry, showered quickly and gratefully and am now in bed.

Jack, my third grader, will be in an upstairs classroom for the first time, his fifth year, at this marvelous school. It seems so purposeful and meaningful, this trip up the stairs instead of down; down into the safe womb of littler and younger and more innocent; down where Oliver will go. I know they'll hate this physical separation which will come earlier, geographically, than it did last year. But I also look forward to this, for them, for us all.

His teachers sent a query to their class; Quakers like queries, and really, what a magnificent way to consider and learn. Anyway, this query involved a picture of two circles on a chalkboard: one is "you"; the other, just beyond "your" perimeter is "where the magic happens." Isn't that wonderful? Before sleep struck, Jack and Ol and I talked about all we'd learned by jumping into the next circle.

"I learned that swimming was so much fun."

"I learned that Camp Calleva was awesome."

"I learned that being your Mom was amazing."

And so, with smiles on our faces and eagerness in our hearts, we look forward to tomorrow with excitement and gratitude, ready to jump into another new circle and open ourselves to the magic which will come.