Yesterday, Ella’s first day of school, was an amazing success. Not only did she love her time in the classroom, I managed to get through the day without tears (though apparently several people who read my blog were not so fortunate). So it was when we went to bed last night, Ella declared, “I’m ready to do it again!”
Then came the morning.
Ella walked into the kitchen rubbing her eyes after Rachel had awakened her. She looked tired. Her eyes were puffy. Her hair had somehow loosed itself from the Law of Gravity. She yawned and scratched her armpit.
“Why do I have to get up so early, daddy?” she asked.
“Because you have to go to school.”
“But I got up early yesterday.”
I suppressed a smile. This is the child that has woken her parents up before sunrise practically every morning of her life.
“Well, you have to get up this early every morning in order to go to school.”
Her eyes flew open. “Do what?”
“Well, school starts at the same time every day, so you need to get up at the same time every day.”
Her face twisted. “That stinks.”
“Welcome to the real world,” I said.
She walked over to the kitchen table and paused. “How long will I have to do this?”
“For the next nine months.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Seriously?”
“Yep. And then you get to repeat it for at least the next 12 years. And a few more years after that for college.”
Her shoulders slumped as her head bowed. “Ugh.”
“Yep. This is what it means to grow up.”
She walked out of the kitchen to find her mother, probably to ask the same set of questions in hope of a different answer.
It was weird, on the second day of school, to already answer one of the great existential questions of life: Is this all there is? It was even weirder that I didn’t think of it as an inappropriate question from my kindergartener. (After all, this is the little girl who looked at me on Sunday, after I’d called her outfit “cute”, and said, “I don’t want to be cute…I want to be gorgeous!”) After the emotional build-up to yesterday, almost anything by comparison seems trivial, even discussions about the monotony of life.
To her credit, Ella gamely got dressed and ready for school, and by the time we reached the bus stop, she’d forgotten all about the mind-numbing reality of early mornings the rest of her life. In fact, she found a way to make her walk to the bus stop a game, and giggled as the bus pulled up and opened its doors. She scrambled up the stairs excitedly and I saw her little face in the window again, all lit up like a field of candles.
I didn’t think much of it this morning, but now, I’m thinking that I can learn something from her, or at least from this morning. There are times when the weight of repetition in my daily schedule threatens to drive me insane, and even more times when life just seems lifeless. I can’t find anything I want to eat. I can’t find anything I want to read. I can’t think of anything I want to write. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.
How simple might it be, then, to just look at things through the eyes of my five year-old? To find something magical inside myself that makes the monotony of the moment into something more, something fun, even if that fun only lasts for a moment?
I think, all too often, I (and all adults, really) imprison ourselves within a limited imagination or starve our souls because we refuse to feed ourselves. Much better, then, to skip the next fifty feet and let it change your perspective than to trudge that same pathway and let it drive the dull knife of boredom in deeper.
I think I need to go get some sunshine.