The crazy schedules of the last few weeks have settled, thankfully. Both kids headed back to school yesterday. For the first time in what seemed like weeks I packed lunches and snacks and filled water bottles, and the morning was filled with the usual chaos of school day preparations.
Yesterday morning, while I stood at the counter fixing cereal for the kids, T. sat at the kitchen table, coloring a large Easter bunny coloring page. Then she set down her crayon and sighed, her shoulders slumping a little.
"What's wrong?" I asked her.
"Back to school today," she said, her voice drooping, Eeyore-style.
This surprised me, because T. has always been positive about school. I wondered if she was mimicking L.'s default attitude towards school, but he hasn't talked much about going back after the long Easter weekend. And I try not to project L. onto T. too much, or read T.'s emotions and behaviors through his (or vice versa). T. is a brave soul, and her default attitude is always to be positive and upbeat. She glides over L.'s meltdowns and difficulties without missing a beat, chattering and singing in an unnerving way, even, over the ugliest scenes. Maybe it's a coping mechanism, maybe it's just the way she's always been. I do think that she has learned--consciously or unconsciously--to compensate for some of L.'s behaviors and attitudes by being extreme in her cheery or sunny attitude--she's a complicated soul, no doubt about it. I sometimes imagine her as a teenager, rebelling against all this; bursting with a pent-up need to NOT be cheerful, NOT be positive, NOT be the easygoing child all the time.
As if on cue, and before I could even ask T. about her feelings, she picked up her crayon again and began coloring, her previous mood passing like a small gray cloud blown away by a spring breeze.
"It will be good to see your friends again," I told her, with forced cheerfulness. I wanted to say so much more, and my heart hurt that she was troubled about going back, but it was 7:35 and we had to get L. out the door in ten minutes. As sometimes happens, I found myself a little tongue-tied; hesitant to read too much into her mood, unsure what to say, or how much to say, or whether to leave well enough alone. She was happy again, anyway, talking about what color she was going to make the bunny in the picture, and whether or not she should color the sky dark blue, or pale blue.
"Mama! There's no sun in the picture!" She said, suddenly in alarm. "I'll draw one in!"
And she took a big fat yellow crayon and made a huge wobbly sun at the top of the page, one big enough to shine over the dancing bunny on the page, the white fluffy clouds, and everything in-between.
Just like my T.