Black and white is the theme this week on ‘The Photo Gallery’ and it is especially poignant as I struggle to let my youngest child ‘go’, and settle her into school.
I feel like my wild butterfly is being closed up in a box, of sorts, and having her wings clipped. The vibrant colours of her rich and beautiful character are being tested.
I find the time after school (she’s only doing mornings this term), and weekends, so incredibly precious. I took the photograph below today, after school, at the local beach; a mere ten minutes walk from our home. The sun had lost its burn, as it was around 5pm, but the heat of a wonderful New Zealand summer was still in the air, and her innocent nature drove her to take off her clothes and splash in the waves.
Whilst I witness her assimilation into school, I am nurturing her colourful personality outside of school and fighting to retain her uniqueness and natural vest for life. I have great faith in the school she is attending. I see the older students there retain so much of their unique personalities and spirit, whilst also gaining a top class education. I remind myself of this every day, when doubts creep up on me.
Settling her into school is going pretty well on the whole, but it is of course an emotional time – especially as I haven’t spent more than a few hours away from her at a time (apart from that one weekend, when she was four, that I travelled to a Uni friend’s wedding in England for a long weekend – I was living in the USA at the time, making the logistics easier than travelling from New Zealand!).
It’s especially hard as she has no prior experience of being in an educational setting. She’s having to learn, very quickly, how to ‘fit in’ within the setting of formal school – where a tie is a mandatory part of the uniform (even when the summer temperatures sizzle on), sitting with crossed legs and arms, not asking endless questions – but to hold her hand up in the hope she’ll be picked (thankfully class numbers are small, so the chance is more so), not singing when the whim takes her – but waiting till morning tea and lunch to let her lungs burst forth with song, or at formal ‘singing’ practice, keeping her shoes and socks on, even when her natural inclination is to run barefoot, not dance and move with physical freedom, but be constantly mindful of her body in respect to others in the classroom.
This is all in very stark contrast to the life she has led thus far. Less than six months ago she was living in Santa Barbara, California, in a beautiful home with a pool in the back garden. She spent most of the day without a strip of clothing and dived in and out of the swimming pool as the fancy took her. She sang her own parody to the Phantom of the Opera song ‘Sing to Me’ – singing ‘Swim to Me’ at the top of lungs in the pool, she baked alongside me, played with her older sisters (who were also home educated during the fifteen months that we lived in California), spent mornings drawing in the garden and evenings playing with her Daddy. We sat over morning tea and observed the different birds that frequented the garden, identifying them alongside a bird-chart, we marvelled at the speed of the humming bird, as it hovered to gather nectar. Our lives were without time constraints and deadlines. Our lives were blissful and in the moment.
Now, we are in a different chapter of our lives. We are learning to live with alarm clocks, deadlines and systems. We are reintegrating, whilst still trying to hold on to everything we learned throughout our time travelling and living, very much, in the moment.
Thankfully we have a special buddy to help us with this… Monsieur Cocoa, our seven month old puppy.