Sea legs


Just when I think

I’ve steadied myself against the refusal

of any single day to be solid, steady

Just when I think

I’ve righted all that was toppled in the prior storm

Battened down anything that might

not be counted on to stay secure

Just then

A squall blows in

Unforecast and never from the side you’d think

And I’m right back to

those first, awful days,

when I couldn’t take a step without falling.



I spend at least a few days every week in classrooms, and Kindergarten classrooms are a solid part of that rotation. But there’s nothing quite like walking into a Kindergarten classroom with your own kid for the first time to take your breath away.

N will turn 5 in June, and start Kindergarten in the fall, in Seattle, which has a staggeringly complex set of choices to consider. And so, we’ve been making the rounds of local schools, working to weigh Montessori against Dual Language, location against convenience, cost against value. And then on Thursday night, we took Nathaniel’s hand and walked four blocks down the hill to our neighborhood school.

The night began with pizza and potluck in the cafeteria and remarks from the principal. Then, we were off and running. Our first stop was the gym. “Look!” I exclaimed to my husband and brother-in-law. “There’s a word wall! That really tells me something about the stance around literacy in this school! So cool!” I dusted off my shoulders and stood taller, secure in all I know about what to do during learning walks.

We squeaked down the linoleum past the art room, reeking of tempera paint, the computer lab, and the big kids’ classrooms. I pointed out the clear social-emotional curriculum, the abundant classroom libraries, the cheerful-colored newsletters hung outside each classroom.

We rounded the corner into the Kindergarten classroom, and all the words were crushed out of me as N dove into the room and placed his hand on the little desk in front of us, looking for all the world like he fit perfectly in that room. “Look, mama, they wrote books!” he beamed. My eyes filled with tears as he skipped across the room to admire the math manipulatives.

I’ve been thinking about this moment for years, but now, now I am feeling this moment. It’s beautiful, but oh so heavy.