Circle of Control

My girls have been “back”’to school for almost a month now and Lord, it hasn’t been easy. Between a week off with Covid, snow days, half-days and holidays, there’s been little consistency. The days are “too long”, school is “too weird” and they don’t understand “why they have to do this”.

Today, I drew them their “circle of control”- the things they should focus on- what they want to eat for breakfast, wear and play- how they decide to move their body. All of the other things- the weather, having to go to school, how other people live and behave- are not in their control.

I explained that every day, we have a choice on what we focus on. It’s easy to get lost in the things out of our control- best to leave those things to God and to live with a heart full of gratitude for the things in our immediate circle.

New Leaf Parenting. Every Day is a Fresh Start. Turn the page and try again.

Together

It was an innocent assignment; written in the curriculum years before the pandemic even began. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a letter to children in 1947 and now it was my child’s turn:

“Write a letter to children in the future describing what life is like today for your family.”  

She began with the simple facts:  her age, family and hometown.

But by the second paragraph, my nine-year-old froze.  

Covid-19.  Living during a pandemic.  

And just like that- it was all too much to bear. 

It’s one thing to survive on a daily basis. 

It’s another to face it in words.

The fear, the masks, the social distancing.

“Mommy, I don’t want to do this.”  She cried.  

I held her, told her to take a break and later said, 

“We’ll do it together.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we cannot do it alone.  

We do it together. 

Camille Vaughan Photography

Moving Beyond The Page, Epiphany Curriculum

Lessons

I knew it was hopeless before the meeting even began. 

Ms. Larrimore briskly explained to my perplexed mother that there was no amount of extra credit I could complete in the last few weeks of school to help me achieve a passing grade.

I had failed ninth grade English so badly, she told us, that I didn’t even need to attend the 7:10 A.M. class for the remainder of the year.  

To her, I was hopeless. 

I remember feeling a mixture of anger and relief. 

Relief that I wouldn’t have to bother attending her class anymore and anger for the entire disaster that was my freshman year of high school. 

Where had I gone so wrong?

Aside from second grade, I had attended private school.  Ninth grade public exposed me to a world I was wholly unprepared for.  I figured it out by fitting in with whoever would accept me- smoking cigarettes, smoking weed, drinking alcohol before and after school and failing the honors classes I had been assigned.  

Ms. Larrimore, one of the first African- American students to graduate Maury High School in 1964, saw right through my privilege and wasn’t going to give an inch.  This was a woman that assigned a few hundred word paper, in which we weren’t allowed to use the verb “to be”- is, was, am, going, will- all forms.  She was all business and I was taking my education for granted.

I took a summer school class the following summer to make up that failed English class.

And ultimately, I became an English Major with a Masters in Education and later, a writer.  

But the lessons Ms. Larrimore taught me that year will last a lifetime:

Action verbs illustrate.  

Effort, not privilege, counts.  

Precipice

I can feel it.  A change is coming and just like the rain, there’s not much I can do about it.

My eldest will enter her first year of all-day public school next week, guaranteed to create a lasting domino effect in our household.

The dynamics between the inseparable two eldest will shift.  My second-born will gravitate towards her younger sister in the absence of her idolized older sister.  The eldest will return home, tired and yet frustrated at her replacement.  The third sister will resent being dismissed as soon as school is over.

There will be sickness, spread like wildfire.  Long, sleepless nights.  Trips to the doctor.  Boxes upon boxes of tissues.

And then there’s the worry of releasing my 6 year-old to the big, ugly world.  The one where bullies exist and feelings get hurt.  Out from the shelter of her mother, her home and her little private preschool, she will be vulnerable to the wolves.

I can only hope I’ve taught her well.

To be kind.

To be tough.

To be happy.

It began with that first cut of the umbilical cord.  Little by little, I’ve witnessed her venture further from my womb.  Becoming less of me and more of her.

We’re on a precipice and there’s no turning back.  And the view, albeit daunting, is invigorating.

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Camille Vaughan Photography