August 5th, 2004

I had a dream when I woke up, but it’s gone now. Still, I know I had it, and that’s something.

I cried in the car on the way to work today. There’s something about being in the car, about riding past the exits to the hospital and the emergency room that almost always tugs at me. Sometimes it’s a small tug, just a wrench, a reminder that there is still pain and there is
still longing and there is still sadness. Other times it feels like a large wave that’s going to wash over me, pull me under, take me away. I’m doing better. Really, I am. I can clearly tell that I don’t feel terrible all the time. But everything is still so difficult. This morning there was a speckled black and white moth on the patio in the building where I work. It was beautiful, and I spent some time admiring it, wondering what kind of moth it was, and whether it was rare or common and such.

Already the days are shortening. When I walk Sergei in the mornings now it is almost dark. I miss the interminably long days of June. I miss Simone. She was practically still a part of me, and I spent more time with her than anyone else got to. I remember sitting with her on the bed,
looking out at the intense greenness of the yard : the grass, the wisteria, the plant that I like because it’s just like the ones outside that were outside the chapel in the seminary where I grew up but which I don’t know the name of. Everything was so vibrant. I thought I was a happy person, then. I remember taking her into the back yard and rocking her in the garden chairs. I remember putting her in the sling and taking her and Sergei for a walk. She’d always be asleep by the time I returned, lulled by the continuous motion, and I’d lift her slightly sweaty body out of the sling and lay her down to nap while I showered. The long
days of June may return next year, but Simone will not and my time with her will not and new times with her will not arrive with the return of this season. I feel as though I am repeating myself, as though I’ve said and thought these things a million times. I am hoping that something will
happen to my thoughts through repetition, that they will hurt me less, become less jagged with handling, turn into something worn and smooth and beautiful. Something sweet and fond, like she was to me. I don’t know if it will work but I keep trying anyways. Everything is uncertain to me,
and I have no choice but to walk into the darkness ahead or quit walking altogether. I’m not ready to quit just yet.

There are lots of thoughts with me. One is that I love to see my husband enthusiastic. Another is that Sophia is startlingly creative. She’s making up songs that I wish I could capture and present to you. Her lyrics are free-form, drifting between disparate subjects, her voice is sweet and convincing, her melodies incorporating familiar elements
then dashing off into original notes. And I’m finding it harder all the time to deny that she is smart. She’s quick and perceptive. I don’t think she’s necessarily extraordinary, or smarter than most, and probably my
judgement that she’s smart derives from one of those things that happens to every parent : she keeps surprising me by what she knows. So there’s no telling how much of my own bias is built into my observation that she’s intelligent, despite the fact that it’s exactly the sort of observation I’m trying to resist making. Yesterday I was talking to a co-worker and we were exchanging tales about what our children could do. I was recounting how Sophia knows her right and left (this morning in the car she amazed me by pointing behind her head in the car and saying “Home
is that way.” Followed this up by pointing ahead of us and saying “Wee Care is this way.” She has an amazing sense of direction.) and the co-worker was telling me how her child could tell time. I was suitably impressed. On a clock with hands, she was telling me. Wow. She then told me that they
grow so fast, and she couldn’t believe that her child would be starting first grade. I felt a kind of jarring then, because I had assumed we were talking about kids the same age. I don’t know why I had assumed that, but I just had. And I realized that maybe Sophia is a bit precocious and maybe she does do things that signal she’s not a completely run of the mill kid. I don’t know. On several occasions people have told me their child or a child they know has done this extraordinary thing (said their abc’s by 18 months; known their letters,
the corresponding sound they make and what they look like by 3 years) and I’ve thought to myself that Sophia did the same, and was that really all that unusual? I don’t want to be too quick to label her exceptionally smart or tag her as outside the average. In fact, I’ve read that studies show
that no matter how early a start on things like reading kids get, that by and large, once they get into grade school it all evens out. After all, the fact that Sophia can name most the numbers in a deck of cards and all the suits is really just a parlor trick. Other kids her age can tell
you all the characters on SpongeBob Squarepants or name all sorts of different trucks or relate tidbits about princesses (they live in castles, will one day be queens, wear pink, etc.), instead. Naming things and correctly associating them is a virtue of the developmental fast mapping she’s doing, not how smart she is. All kids can do it. So she
can point out various types of birds, and knows all sorts of shapes (including spiral and trapezoid) and can tell you whether a line is tangent to a circle or not. It doesn’t mean she’s all that smart, does it? Ultimately, come school time, it will all even out. The slow ones will catch
up and the quick ones won’t pick up on new things quite so quickly any more. I don’t want to, for sake of concentrating on some supposed great intelligence, lose sight of the things I think are most important for Sophia : that she get time to be a kid, that she connect with the natural world and the things in it, that she be – when possible – happy, that she be safe and secure. It’s
not important to me that she be smart for her age, and it’s especially not important to me that she be smarter than her peers. I don’t want that burden for her. On the other hand, if she really is smarter or more creative than most kids around her, I want to make sure she gets opportunites to flex her intellectual gifts. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about the Montessori school. With a system that lets her go at her own pace she can spend the whole year pouring tiny rocks from one container to another or learning math or learning to write letters or whatever it is she feels like doing.

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