Ryan officially finished Kindergarten last week! I cannot believe how fast this year went by. It seems like yesterday when I wrote this. As I watched him participate in the end of the year “Peter Rabbit” play surrounded by his sweet buddies, I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for his beating heart and the amount of love that has been showered on him this year. And at the same time profound grief and longing for Ben and the life he should have had here. It’s so frustrating that every milestone Ryan reaches is a reminder of loss as well. I suppose that tension will continue to permeate every step in our parenting journey.
Someone asked me the other day if I have been happy with the academics and curriculum at our elementary school. I felt slightly embarrassed to say that I wasn’t sure what the official curriculum was for Kindergarten. Aren’t they just learning to go to school, their letters, numbers and how to eat lunch? But yes we have been totally happy! And here is why: because Ryan is happy. He loves school, adores his friends, writes his name, is learning to read, plays all kinds of sports and most importantly is strong and healthy.
I’m sure I would be concerned at some level if we were told he was really struggling. But luckily for us, he is not. He is doing just fine. For some people, like the Tiger Mom, I know “just fine” would not be good enough. She would probably look down on our golden retriever outlook, reminding us that if he wants to go to Harvard we should already be reading chapter books right now, working every day on math over the summer and of course practicing the violin. But we won’t be, and besides Ryan seems to think he is going to get “drafted” to Stanford or go straight into the NBA (see confidence “issues”). Instead this summer we will be chasing the ice cream truck (it still plays the same music!), playing with friends, enjoying a few camps, going to the beach, and joining his cousins on the annual Towne family camping trip. I know we will have our stressful moments (this morning in fact), as all parents/families do, figuring out the summer logistics. And I know I will breathe a huge sigh of relief when school starts again in the fall, bringing with it the comfort of routine. But today, in the midst of a prolonged wave of grief – I am so proud of Ryan, amazed at what he experienced this year and thankful for conversations like this:
Ryan: Mom, why were you sad this morning?
Me: I am just missing Ben a lot today.
Ryan: Maybe you could pretend that I am Ben.
Me: No Ryan, I don’t ever want to pretend that you are Ben. You are my Ryan and you are my favorite person on earth. If you weren’t here I would miss you just as much as I miss him.
Ryan: You are my favorite person too Mom – after God, Santa and Dad.
Me: Good to know.