Oh the school year, you've dragged on forever around these parts. It's the last school day for most Toronto kids today and at our house we are celebrating loud and clear. They say the school year is only ten months long, but this one felt more like sixteen or seventeen, like someone added a few months in there when we weren't looking. Only the cats are a little disappointed that summer vacation starts tomorrow.
I've mentioned before that this is has been a hard school year for Alyce, so in large part our palpable excitement comes from a deep need to leave this year behind. Her second grade teacher was a bad fit for her sensitive little self and it sparked all kinds of problems. (I once made the mistake of explaining to Alyce what homeschooling was and ever since she's been trying to negotiate her own schooling here at home. Not going to work, Alyce, I have babies to catch.)
I had been noticing this year that Alyce didn't draw anymore. Our walls are covered in Shira's artwork (we could wallpaper two houses with the piles and piles of her daily creations) but Alyce wasn't contributing anymore. I thought maybe it had something to do with her school struggles and it broke my heart to think that some of her joy--joy that I had been used to seeing expressed in her drawings and paintings--might be disappearing. I had such a sad heart for her all year.
But as we went through the ritual of bringing piles home school work this week (one of my favourite rituals), Alyce showed me her sketchbook. An artist had visited her class a few months back and gifted each student with an blank book for drawing and doodling. Alyce actually sparkled when she started walking me through the pages and I saw drawing after drawing filled with colour and most of all, joy. I started quietly crying because that's what you do when you're brought face to face with feelings you had been trying to avoid for so long. I have been so deeply worried about her for so long now and it was weighing on me more than I realized.
Alyce's sketch showed me that she is way more resilient than I had given her credit for. She's had a hard year but she's okay, she's still my Alyce. I've gone through the book so many times now, turning the pages with a big grin on my face. Much like the grin on Alyce's face when she proudly showed me her favourite drawings.
And Shira? No, we haven't forgotten about the other one. She glided through her school year, or more accurately, skipped through it. Junior Kindergarten was a safe and happy place for her, and for that I am grateful. She's just as excited for summer, however, because she's convinced herself that summer vacation means ice cream for every meal. Sounds delightful.