TREENA MIELKE / On The Other Side
The mellow yellow of fall and the busy swirl of activities the changing season brings are here.
Not the least of these activities and certainly one that ranks pretty darn high on the totem pole of ‘important things that happen in one’s life’ is the start of school.
I took some pictures of ‘the first moments’ of the first day last week that for some reason, I enjoyed immensely.
There was, of course, nowhere to park anywhere near the school.
I parked on some side street, grumbling all the while, because I want to get in shape and walk everywhere, but I didn’t want to do it today. I want to do it tomorrow when I have more time.
But when I got out of the car, notebook and camera in hand, and the sun obligingly threw some golden rays my way, I felt immediately better.
And when I got closer and saw all those students milling around outside the school, chatting it up with each other, the teachers and, of course, themselves again, I found myself, for some reason, quite happy to share, for at least a quick moment in time, the first day back.
And later when I focused my camera lens on a five-year-old boy with eyes the color of chocolate who favored me with a quiet, shy smile almost too quick to capture, I discovered, even a reporter whose been there done that a hundred times or more can still turn feel her heart turn to mush.
And as always when I find myself struggling to capture the people and the action through a camera lens, the photographs stored in my mind come into sharp, clear focus.
Three kids, three lunch bags. Go, go, go! Out the door. Five plates set at the supper table. Hot summer sun and peanut butter sandwiches. A little black dog barking ferociously and running around in circles for no reason at all. The slam of the front door and, finally, three pairs of runners in a jumbled heap at the entrance.
All home. All safe. And me, sleeping, finally.
And so the years flew by, almost like one on top of the other.
Homework. Gymnastics. Hockey. Music lessons. Interviews. Science fairs. Report cards. Curfews. Breaking curfews.
I remember thinking I wanted to get a picture of the three of them all wearing elementary school T-shirts. I thought I had lots of time and if I just got the shirts and the children all clean at the same time, it would work.
It never happened.
I remember thinking I wanted to sit on the parent council committee before my youngest graduated.
I really believed that I wanted to be a voice, a concerned parent who would make a subtle, but definite difference and not just think about making such a difference, and then go have a nap.
That never happened either.
I remember thinking I should take a course in math so I could help my son with his homework. I remember staring at pages of questions and problems that made absolutely no sense to me or to him either, and both of us closing the book in frustration and going off to play catch.
We both liked playing catch better.
And as far as me using that side of my brain to help me or him, it definitely did not happen.
So what did happen, I muse, as I drive back to the office, shunning the use of my cellphone of course, because of the new law.
Well, the kids grew up as kids do, and moved on, even as I, the mom, kept on reporting and taking pictures and struggling to capture the ever elusive moments that I believe are always out there, hiding from me,
And, somewhere, somehow, despite my failure to be the ‘perfect mom’ that I thought maybe was lurking somewhere inside of me, the kids did okay. My son learned math without my help, and, my girls, on the flip side of education, are back in school.
Teachers! Who knew?
I smile and drive back to work happy, and a little surprised, that it all worked out!