Boy on a boat

Jonah is incredibly present in my mind these days, and I know it’s the school thing. I’m touchy about it; he’s touchy—not necessarily aware that his touchiness is a symptom of our decision to switch schools a week before school starts, but definitely edgy and sad to leave his loving, much smaller school.

So I’m trying not to put my shit on Jonah. Just because I had a mental breakdown at age ten after switching schools doesn’t mean Jonah’s going to, right? I’ve also decided to ignore my husband’s prejudice against crewcut elementary bruiser-boys and their blank-faced stares—a prevalent physical type in our part of the country.

Jonah is (very nearly) all sweetness and questions and curiosity. And the last thing I want for him is for that essential part of himself to be tromped on. He’s going to (what we deem to be) a school with good possibilities for him: Montessori, bigger classes, more chances to learn to interact with his peers, caring staff and helpers, an intervention team of the sort that will keep trying until the right thing works. His intervention team from last year is thrilled. They think it’s time for J to branch out a little. The teachers at his old school are a little heartbroken, and so am I.

I will miss walking to and from the school everyday and the way it helped us all transition naturally from one place to another. I will miss the smallness and the way I knew that the people who were teaching him not only cared about his education and his progress but also, almost always, really loved him.

As you can see, this transition is as hard on me (probably harder on me) than it will end up being for Jonah. It feels like one of those monumental times where I’m supposed to let him go, to send him off on a bigger boat. Yeah, let’s think about it like a boat. Boat’s float, and my boy loves the water; he loves powerful waves.

A boat it is, with Jonah on it and a passel of potential new friends, his brother nearby in a classroom down the hall. Me at my computer for the morning in my quiet hallway office doing my own work on my own boat for awhile.

And here’s why I think I know Jonah will be okay out there in the world: it’s his desire to know and the delight he takes in his senses, a truth that this quote from Aristotle fleshed out for me:

All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses. For even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves—and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this [sense of sight], most among all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things.

from Metaphysics

Beautiful Jonah and his difference.

boys on a wall

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3 thoughts on “Boy on a boat

  1. He’ll make it, but it’s difficult to go through. Eliot is a bit of a weirdo, even at a Montessori charter school with lots of “unique” kids. He has trouble finding friends. But they survive with their best inclinations intact. It’s my firm belief that Jonah’s sweetness and curiosity will not be “tromped” out. After all, you have ample evidence that kids can go through public schools in the heart of one of the most oppressively conservative states in the Union (where crew cuts were also prevalent) and come out with their curiosity and compassion in tact…

  2. Thank you Ned. I instinctively believe/hope that is true, but it’s good to hear it from the voice of a friend—who I respect immensely and whose kids I love (as much as I know them from our short visit). I still think about the way Eliot and J hit it off so quickly.

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