Yesterday, one of Jack's best friends invited him to go trick-or-treating with his family. As this boy's mom is one of my close friends, we talked about a joint, both-family Halloween. Oliver, however, felt nervous: what if someone in our friends' family or neighborhood laughed at his Cinderella costume? It's possible. I really wanted to honor Jack's desire to t-or-t with his buddy, but I also wanted Oliver to feel safe and confident so that he could have a fun Halloween. I was also hoping that my little family unit could stay together one more year.
Last night, tired from the party, Oliver said he wasn't comfortable and Jack yelled at him for not being willing to be Cinderella next year. I said we needed to sleep on and talk at breakfast. They were shockingly amenable to this idea, and Jack, in such a mature way, brought it up at breakfast this morning: "can we have our family talk about what to do about Halloween?"
Oliver again said he was nervous, and Jack asked why.
"Because someone might laugh at me, Jack."
"What dummy would laugh about you wearing a beautiful dress as your costume?"
I was beaming with pride and bursting with love, and then Jack went and gilded the lily by adding, "well, I do not want anyone to make fun of Oliver. That's awful. So, I will go with my friend, and Oliver can go with you and Dad."
He didn't say this lightly. I know it's big for him to leave us and join his friend. And I was (am!) so deeply proud of the reasoned and thoughtful decision he made, even though I'll miss him tonight, and that made me feel a little sad. I felt like a beautiful pie from which someone had surreptitiously stolen a slice. Sigh.
People often ask me why I write so regularly, so honestly, so openly. I wouldn't make the time if I didn't love it, didn't feel I simply must get X, Y or Z down in words. Certainly, the love of the craft is part of the why. But also I've found that in no other way can I process and come to understand certain issues, aspects of myself, familial and inter-relational trends, for example, as well as I can through writing.
One of the biggest surprises to me about Em-i-lis is how much better I've come to know myself. I'm a pretty introspective person, but even with years of self-study and analysis under my belt, there is something in the committing-to-the-page method that illumines that much more.
After I dropped the boys off at school, I drove in silence to the gym. I worked my fanny off but realized that I still felt a bit churned up inside. I wasn't ready to write yet; things were too murky. So I went to the market and then to my favorite nursery as it's having a huge sale on perennials today. I stocked up, eager to return home, take advantage of the temperate day we're having and lose my troubles in the soil. Nanny always said that's one thing gardening was good for; you could just work through problems as you worked through the earth. I agree.
I cleared and trimmed and raked and bagged: 7 stuffed lawn bags now await pick-up by our garbage bins. The gardens are clear, the hydrangeas and hostas finally have the haircuts they desperately needed, Nutmeg hunted so many crickets and other tiny beings that he's now out like a light on an ottoman, Percy too is snoring quietly. After two hours, my back begged for a respite, so I didn't get my new perennials any more than placed where they'll be planted. But I figured out why I felt sad -my oldest little boy really is growing up and away, even in the smallest of ways- and I worked through it and I celebrated him. I realized that Oliver never gets to be the only child so might really love a whole evening of trick-or-treating alone with Tom and me.
And then I came in to finish things off by writing all this down. So that I most clearly understand. So that I will remember.