Tuesday 23rd June
The First Day written by Sonja Seawright
“Let’s go over it again,” I told my partner, Majka.
“Do you think that maybe,” she said gently, “you’re panicking about this a bit?”
“Yes, I am!” I answered, my eyes bugging alarmingly out of my head. “The question is, why aren’t you?!” I mean, come on, our baby – OUR BABY – was about to go off into the cold, heartless world! For the first time! If there was ever a time to panic, this was it!
“It’s okay,” Majka said soothingly. “Sure, let’s go over the plan for tomorrow again.” She leaned forward and looked ready to catch my eyeballs, which were dangerously close to popping right out of my head. Seriously, I could feel a slight breeze around my optic nerve.
Back in April, without a moment’s hesitation, I’d signed MY BABY (otherwise known as Quinn) up for six weeks of summer camp. I had been a little disappointed that one week was already full; otherwise, I would have signed her up for all seven weeks. But now that the first day of camp was almost here, I wondered what I had been thinking in April.
The plan set (again), I stepped outside of our house to get some fresh air, and I vaguely remembered back to April, back to the calm and quiet that WSP exuded that day I turned in the camp application, the way the teachers were simultaneously comforting yet confident and strong, the philosophy of Waldorf education with its emphasis on nurturing my child and treasuring her for the amazing, unique individual that she is and will be. It had all seemed so right then, but now MY BABY was about to go to school for the first time, and I just didn’t know anymore.
My neighbor stepped out of her house and smiled at me before noticing the expression on my face. She quickly came over to me, “What’s wrong? What happened?”
“Quinn is going to camp tomorrow for the first time!” I told her. (I was incapable of speaking without exclamation marks.)
“Oh,” my neighbor said, relaxing. “That’s good, isn’t it?”
“She’s MY BABY!”
Confused, my neighbor asked, “Quinn’s going to turn four next week, isn’t she?”
Scowling, I snapped, “What’s your point?” and then stomped back into my house.
At 8:30 am on the next morning, Majka picked up the bag that contained Quinn’s swimsuit, sun hat, and various accoutrements. Then Majka went to grab the car keys, but I stopped her. “She’s not ready! Just look at her!” I wailed, pointing at Quinn, who was standing excitedly at the front door, completely ready.
“It’s going to be okay,” Majka told me. Then she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and before I knew it, she and Quinn were in the car, and it was pulling away, and my baby was waving goodbye to me through the window.
To appease me, Majka had agreed to stay at WSP for a while to make sure that Quinn was settling in while I was home with our other daughter. Majka sent me several text messages, reassuring me that Quinn was having fun and doing just fine. After an hour and a half, Majka took off for work.
What seemed like ages later, I picked Quinn up. She was a bit hot and sweaty and maybe a little tired from all the outside playing, but she told me about the fun she had, making bread, playing in the sandbox, meeting the other kids. She also mentioned the “not good part” as she called it, showing me the scraped knee she got from falling down.
After we got re-settled at home, I picked Quinn up and held her in my lap. I closed my eyes and let my mind go back to the summer of 2006 when she’d been a little, chubby, floppy thing with no head control nestled in my arms. After a few moments, though, Quinn started pushing against me, her arms and legs lean, strong, and coordinated. The wrist and knee creases of my memories were long gone.
“Mooooommmmmm,” she complained. “Let me go!”
“I’m trying, sweetie,” I answered and held her tighter for a second before opening my arms and watching her run off.