Happy New Year!
While it’s a brand new (Gregorian) calendar year, educators in the US are just about smack in the middle of the school year. Seasonal Affective Disorder notwithstanding, it’s easy to get a little down in the period post-Christmakwanzukkah festivities. The trees come down, the lights get put away, the gift-giving and family & social engagements die down, and everything gets a little greyer for a little while. With that in mind, I’m taking this opportunity to reflect on a part of my day that brings me much joy year-round.
Since moving from a high school to an intermediate school schedule a year ago, I don’t have to get up as early anymore. My wife – a high school teacher – is up, ready, and out the door by 6:15 am (or so I’m told). I spend the hour or so between when she gets up and when I get up in a half-awake, half-asleep state, enjoying the toastiness of the bed as well as the newly-doubled space. But while that’s very nice, that’s not the best time of my day.
The best time of my day is a five-minute period from 6:30 – 6:35 am. That’s when my 7-year-old son wakes up, turns his alarm off, pads down the hallway, and climbs into bed with me. Sometimes he snuggles into the crook of my arm and lays his head on my chest, sometimes we just lie next to each other in mirror-image fetal positions. Sometimes we talk softly, sometimes we lie in complete silence. Either way, it’s a peaceful time that is special for just the two of us.
He’s at a time in his life when he is testing boundaries and discovering himself. He no longer believes in Santa Claus, he has started to neglect his once-dear army of stuffed animals, and he asks his parents “Why?” and “Why not?” with much more force, sharpness, and challenge in his voice than when he asked as a three-year-old. He’s seven going on seventeen, and most days I look at his tall body and lean face and wonder where my chubby-cheeked baby boy went.
But for five minutes every morning, he comes back to me, at least for now. I know it won’t (and shouldn’t) last, but for now, that five minutes is our special time, a time when everything is perfect and calm. As 6:35 rolls around, we get up, I get my daughter up, and we all start our respective morning hustle and bustle. I can’t speak for him, but as for me, having that time together in the morning is soothing and centering, and starts my day on such a positive note. I am so pleased with and proud of the young man he is becoming, but I am also acutely grateful that while he spends so much time within himself figuring out who he is and isn’t, he continues to grant me just five more minutes each day.
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