We’ve come to the end of Elihu’s first week in the Waldorf School of Saratoga. It has been wonderful. He is more joyful than I’ve ever known him to be – if we overlook the brief over-tired episodes that have come before a bedtime or two. It’ll take us another week or so to fully get into our new rhythm, but it’s already underway, and it’s not the terribly difficult transition we’d thought it might be.
After Elihu’s third day, to my surprise and delight, he came home singing “Simple Gifts” and speaking in French. “I wonder if there really are outdoor markets with so many things for sale…” he mused aloud dreamily from the backseat after I’d picked him up from school. In his class they’d been learning about a French marketplace. I assured him that even in this modern time, there were still open-air markets all over the world, and yes of course, even in France. Places with tables full of fresh vegetables and bushels of brightly colored flowers. I recounted to him an early memory I had of the marche in Vevey, Switzerland that I’d gone to with my family as a child. I remember vividly the colors, the abundance. (I also remember my mother pointing out Charlie Chaplin to me and commanding me to remember that always. I did.) Elihu was happy to hear my story, and inspired that he might one day visit such a place. I told him I was pretty sure he would.
Since we no longer have the drudgery of homework (the routine assignments he received in his old school were little more than time-wasters in my opinion), we can instead spend our time creating impromptu flying machines of balsa wood and rubber bands. Elihu is a good thinker, a good designer, and I’m happy to see him tenaciously going after his goals. With a little help from mom and a couple pieces of duct tape he assembles some interesting contraptions. Our afternoons (he’s home nearly two hours before he would have been at his old school) and evenings have become an enjoyable time of stress-free winding down. Of chasing chickens and paper airplane-making. Most days I teach – but my students don’t come by for a good hour yet after he comes home, so we have a lovely window of free, unstructured time each day. The quality of our life here has noticeably improved in such a short time. Each day I feel renewed and grateful.
Today after school we’re going to make our pilgrimage to Schenectady for Elihu’s annual low-vision evaluation. We will meet with a most beautiful human being named Dr. Albert Morier, an exceedingly patient and understanding man. A man who respects Elihu’s need to know things exactly as they are; a man who does not in any way see Elihu’s reduced visual acuity as any sort of real handicap. I once wept when Dr. Morier created a lens for me that enabled me to see things as Elihu does. It was as if I were underwater; I could make out nothing that wasn’t within my arm’s reach. He comforted me in such an elegant and understated way, gently redirecting my perspective on things. He diffused the potentially heartbreaking moment ( I don’t ever want to create extra anxiety in my son and don’t like him to see me afraid or heartbroken for him), and never allowed Elihu for a moment to fear his mild disability. I almost feel like a visit to Dr. Morier is as much for my own emotional stability as it is for Elihu’s physical health.
After that, Elihu and I look forward to having a special dinner out. Here in this part of the country there seems to be a trend towards restaurants that combine many Asian cuisines; it may well be going on all over, but in my experience this is unusual and new. Not a bad idea though, for in one place Elihu can enjoy his beloved sushi and I can indulge in some Thai panang curry. After our fancy supper out, it’s off to a concert by the Adirondack Pipes and Drums in Glens Falls. I’m not sure how much energy we’ll have after our fine meal – it’s been quite a week and Elihu may not have it in him to go. But drums and bagpipes are up there with birds, airplanes and tubas – almost always worth the drive. It seems the chances are good we’ll make it. We’ll see.
Here are some pics of our post-Waldorf afternoon hours this past week…