David is putting the boys to bed tonight. I am wrung out, having just spent the post-dinner hour working with Finn on his homework. Each afternoon he comes home with worksheets in his backpack, our first round of tickets into the world of kids+homework. My guess is that it would be easier to guide Finn through his homework if a) he had more time to ease into the idea of homework, and b) the lessons were at his level of knowledge. But the kids are a bit further along on their knowledge of letters and numbers and so things don’t come as easily to him. In addition, he’s never had homework before so the daily dose feels excessive to him. We find we are walking a fine line as parents: we want to be relaxed about it and not have him feel anxious about the things he doesn’t know as easily as his classmates; we don’t want him to feel that learning is a burden or a bore. At the same time we want him to recognize that learning does take some work and focus; he can’t just blow it off. I have to admit I also feel some pressure to represent our country and our family and not totally shame either entity by having our son show up every day with school work that’s sloppy or undone. Yet again parenting throws challenges into the mix that I hadn’t even considered.
There was a moment today that I want to remember but I’m not sure my writing can capture it adequately. I was at home with Corin and David. It was after lunch and Corin was dancing on the couch, Richard Shindell’s souped up version of the song “Sitting On Top of the World” playing on the stereo. Corin called for me to dance with him and so I grabbed his hands and we danced and whooped it up. Then David called my attention to the scene out the window. Immediately behind our house is a large field where bulls graze. On the other side of that field is the town’s cemetery. And today someone from the town was being buried. As I shifted my focus from dancing to the window, I saw a hearse being driven down the road to the cemetery. It was followed by at least one hundred townspeople on foot, a slow procession to the cemetery. To be holding your two year old’s warm hands as he sings and jumps on the couch and to see a town walking to bury someone they know, they love, with only a pane of glass and a green field between you . . . that’s a moment of humility and gratitude and all I can do is wish that when I go there’s not only a town’s worth of people to walk me to my burial spot but also a mom and a child whooping it up, doing some serious shimmying nearby.