We Can Do It

comments: 17


School has started! Child is excited! There have been many emotions!


The first two weeks are under our belts and overall things seem to be going well, though I won't lie — it's been intense! Amelia is excited, her teacher is lovely, the kids are wonderful. It's great to be back, and we are figuring it out. The first week she was "revving high," as we say here. Lots of zooming around the school yard, lots of hooting noises, lots of chasing people trying to give them things, or pick them up or carry them around, or — I honestly don't even know what all was happening. Andy took the first week of school off and he and I would be there waiting together under the tree when the last bell rang, and she would be as energized at 3 p.m. as she was at 8:30 a.m. At home, also lots of energy, lots of talking in a very intense new, big-girl sort of voice (you know it if you've heard it — I can't explain), lots of excitement, a tiebreaker-in-the-fifth-set sort of ever-present anticipation, knees bouncing, racquet up: Ready to serve! Ready to receive! Then, on the third or so day after Andy went back to work, sudden tears. Clinging. Hugging on the blacktop. She didn't want me to leave. The bell rang and she bravely carried forth. I shed a tear of my own on the way home. Oh, my heart. The teacher sweetly emailed me later in the morning with the subject line "weepy drop-off." She let me know that she had given Meems some extra TLC when they had gotten up to the classroom and all was well. (I so appreciated the email! During the school day! Wow!)


The days rolled by. We started getting used to the new routine. New bedtime-time, new breakfast-eating time, new leaving-the-house time. At school, several reported wipe-outs and trips to the nurse's office — a scraped elbow, a second scraped elbow (on the same day), and then yesterday a completely scraped NOSE. And lip. When pressed: "I was carrying Caitlin piggyback and I fell into the grass with my face." Telling me for the fourteenth time that she is "strong enough to carry a fifth grader." Me: "That's wonderful, but unless you are carrying someone out of a burning building, I want everyone's feet on the ground." Gah. Yesterday, after the nose-scraping wipe-out, her first after-school class at new ballet school across town (our [mellow] old nearby one has permanently closed): It did not go well. Parking/drop-off was chaos. The class was also very crowded (not great), and after it she came flying out the door, red-faced and streaming tears, throwing herself into my arms and saying that her shoes were too small, and she had a giant hole in her tights, and she "didn't know anything." Me: "Oh sweetheart! It's okay! What did the teacher say?" Her, wailing: "I have no idea!!! I didn't understand anything!" Ooof.


So yeah. She left school halfway through first grade. And now she's going back as a fourth grader. She was a little kid, and now she's a big kid. As capable as she is, and as positive as she is, it's been a leap, across a very real gap, and not without a few tears and a few tumbles. But I am just so, so proud of her. I'm constantly in awe of her bravery. My big, beautiful girl. Today after school she wants to go to the dance store to get new ballet slippers to be ready for ballet class tomorrow. She said, "Everyone who saw my nose was like, 'Oh my gosh, what happened to your nose? Are you okay? Does that hurt?' but I just said, "Nope! Ha ha!'" Me: [insert quizzical emoji face] "Mmmkay!" She's figuring things out. Andy and I are figuring things out.  And just trying to take it one day at a time. It really has been kind of a manic two weeks, comparatively. I keep remembering to be gentle with her, and be gentle with everyone, and with . . . everything, everywhere. And to give it the time to let it all settle, as it feels a bit like a prescribed dust-storm right now. But it's starting to settle. I think it's starting to settle.


I've been home designing cross stitch patterns. I have five new designs for you. Literally five. In like . . . two weeks of work? Apparently I had a few ideas I'd been waiting to explore. Fingers flying. I will be back with at least one to launch right away. It's for Halloween. My first-ever Halloween design. I'm not really into Halloween. But I don't think anyone considers you a legit cross stitch designer until you have designed something for Halloween so you know I did. I want to proof the pattern one more time and then I'll have it here for you ASAP.


 These are heady, exciting, mildly nutso days! My girl is growing and learning and changing and trying. And so am I.


Oh man, I feel this post... back to school is such a mixed bag in general but those big transitions seem especially hard in our (mostly) post-pandemic world. My 14 year old son has some differences and is now (gulp) and freshman in a really, really big high school. He's been fine. I've been a basket case. Love the beautiful pictures you always post! Good luck to you guys :)

My 3rd grader is having a similar start to school et al this year. I appreciate you writing about it so honestly, and the reminder to be gentle.

I just laughed, got teary and had huge butterflies just reading that post! Two things out of the way first, the front porch looks great and Amelia looks so grown up.

That is so much in two weeks, thank you teachers! and thank you moms for two feet on the ground lessons and other things! Hilarious.

But such a gut punch reading the left halfway through first grade and went back to fourth grade. That literally made my stomach hurt, made me queasy, horrendous. I know it has happened but I really just felt it. I had a new middle schooler that essentially went back as a freshman but I just feel so bad for younger kids. Can you image? Can you even imagine what she must be experiencing?!?! I know you are living it but I can't even conceptualize my first grade experience and then jump into 4th grade. I would have been fine spending 2nd grade at home...I pretty much did due to a mean teacher and being sick all the time which I think was just stress from the teacher. 4th grade was such a big kid grade for me, so different than the earlier grades. Ugh, these pandemic years and these young kids, it's heartbreaking. It sounds like you have a great teacher though.

Hang in there Mama, hang in there Andy, hang in there Amelia- you are all doing amazing!!!!!

Kristen from MA says: September 13, 2022 at 07:03 PM

She really is a big kid now, isn't she? (I feel old.)

Hooray for new patterns!

Wow! After reading your last sentence, I’m going to start trying, too. Heartache is on the horizon and I have felt like Rat in Wind in the Willows when he looks around and suddenly everything seems gray and lifeless. Thank you, dear Alicia!

You've expressed so perfectly the energy and drama of school, I can picture it all perfectly. Manic indeed, but as you say, it will settle I'm sure. I hope the new ballet class in particular improves. CJ xx

Our kids grown now but I remember those days of school...oh my goodness!! Wish I had written some of my observations. You will have this blog to look back and see what you wrote. It's a good way to keep it as a diary. You seem to be a great mom. Keep up the good work. Yes, remembering to be gentle and understanding it's a great advice to the whole world really. you and your husband are fantastic people!! Thank you, Alicia!!

I bow down to kids, educators, parents. This is amazing change and growth energy. Whoa! It will be studied and analyzed for years to come. I hope it's good memories all around (except maybe for that skinned nose...)

I have been home schooling my grand daughter for the last 3 years and this will be our last term together as she heads off to High School. I suppose she will have lot of the same emotions and experiences as your little one. I thought I had finished all this with my own children but I got given a second chance and it has been just as wonderful all over again, even with the ups and down.

I can't wait to see your Halloween design. I love Halloween and I love your work.

Amelia is exuberance personified. Reading this, I am reminded of one of the Anne of Green Gables books, Rainbow Valley, in which all of Anne's children are growing and changing, finding out who they are. What a joyful time! Thank you for chronicling this for us all.

My little ones are grown and now have little ones of their own, but I can still feel the emotions you have beautifully described in your post. You will never forget these days filled with happiness and angst. Thank you for sharing.

I can report that 4th graders in the East Bay are also obsessed with being strong enough to carry each other around, and occasionally try to pick up unsuspecting parents at drop off to prove their strength.

diane willard says: September 22, 2022 at 12:15 PM

My grandchildren went back to school last year. So this year was a little better. I really feel for the children coming into third grade that have so much catch up to do with their reading and math.. Some children just did not zoom well. Hopefully they will be able to catch up. Children seem so able to bounce back.

Oh my gosh, what a whirlwind!!! I homeschooled both my kids for 5 and four years respectively, before they headed off to school so I have an idea what it is like for you right now, it's really hard as a parent I think! Sounds like you have an absolute gen of a class teacher there though, how wonderful.

Thank you for putting all that energy into words. I have felt exactly the same way, my girl is just a year behind yours in school. Some days I just miss some of those moments that we shared during our homeschool days...we read more books together and had more tea together and somehow it seemed cozier. We just don't seem to have much time for that kind of slowness between getting off the bus and our new dinner and bedtimes. But she is also SO excited to be with people every day and I want to grow in new ways too, yet it still feels a little hazy from the duststorm even a few weeks in. Hang in there, trust it's a season and more restful days are around the corner.

Oh gosh, what a busy time for you. It sure is tough to work out new scheduling and routines and getting used to new people. I hope that everything gets a little bit better every day!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com