Significant Sleeps: The First Day of School


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Hello, long-neglected blog. I’ve ignored you for a year and you remain conveniently  unchanged, fixed in time just the way I left you. But I look away from the Oddnivore for a moment and when I look back, he is a new person.

I look away, while he sleeps tonight, and when I see him in the morning he will be a kindergartener. “Suddenly,” it will seem—as if all the days leading up to now shrink under the impressive magnitude of one night’s rest. One sleep contains the power of 5 3/4 years. The nights we call “the night before” become black hole-dense, sucking us into the after.

When my son awakes, he awakes a student, a student for who knows how many years into the future. Oddnivore, would you be so excited for tomorrow if you really understood how long this path could be? It is good that so much of what we humans get ourselves into is unfathomable, or we fail to fathom it, because if it were not unfathomable or unfathomed we would be too frightened to do it.

Oddnivore, I hope that you do not feel that everything is riding on this day. The risk of fixating on something as special, as the one instance—your one and only first day of kindergarten—is that that something will crumble into a pile of disappointing pieces (this is why I usually dissolve to tears by the end of birthdays, anniversaries and greeting-card holidays: they rarely hold up). Tomorrow is significant to be sure—it is a moment that compels reflection but it is not everything. It is just something.

Beginnings matter, but so do 23rd days and 104th days and 4,216th days and 11,571st  and 605,349th days.

Dad will take your picture tomorrow, Oddnivore, before he puts you on the bus, and we’ll look back at that photo and remember how sweet you looked, and how fresh and full of promise in your beginning. But we’ll also remember that you’ve been working on this beginning every day since you arrived in our lives nearly 6 years ago, and seen that way, this is just Day 2,117. And I think both of us can handle that. Well—you’ll be fine. We’ll see about me.