Fifth Grader and I are hanging around the house together today. Eating a little mac and cheese. Watching a little "Hook". Your standard "Mama, I don't feel so good" kind of day.
Fortunately, Fifth Grader is not feeling so unwell that she is retching into a toilet or burning up with fever - just your run of the mill headache/tummyache combination, coupled with the fact that 11 of the 24 children in her class missed school on Monday, seemed like justification enough to give the lass a day or two of downtime to rest. And allows me to say, without looking like a complete ass, that I'm feeling slightly gleeful about the whole thing. Does that mean I want her to be sick? Of course not. But I can't deny that I am enjoying her company - her restful, thoughtful, movie-loving, magic-believing company, which restores my faith in humanity at-small. (As opposed to humanity at-large, humanity at-small encompasses merely my immediate circle of humans. Most days, that is enough for me to grapple with.) And that makes me feel less lonely.
Lonely, you say? Yes, I reply. And it is probably my own doing. Although I can't figure out what I could have done differently that might have produced non-lonely results. I'm talking about a particular aspect of my life, mind you; I'm struggling to find the right word to name this aspect, but for current lack of a better option I'll call it the Peter Pan aspect. (Seems fitting as we are watching "Hook" for the second time today.) This is the part of me that still desperately wants to believe in Santa Claus; that still reads the Sunday comics every week and looks forward to doing so; that feels an inner connection to Charles Schulz and those "Peanuts"; that simply loves just about every movie Pixar has made, and could watch them all over and over and over. And for the most part, I feel a sense of pride in all of these facets of my character. Because that's what they are: they are part of my character, of my being. They are hopeful, childlike, slightly cosmic. Their perspective informs my view of the world. And I am grateful for that.
But lately, I feel like the Peter Pan in me is endangered. And occasionally I experience a twinge of what can only be embarrassment. It's pretty unpleasant. Seventh Grader is pretty good at inducing it, as you can imagine. It was one thing for the three of us to curl up on the couch and watch "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" together when she was, say, six. But now? I must endure the eye-rolling and the sloooww drag away from the computer, and the inevitable hidden cell phone texting in the corner of the couch during the actual thirty minute encounter. Fifth Grader, still in eager-t0-please mode, is much more enthusiastic about such things. Still, it is more and more apparent that she is indulging me as much as herself. To borrow a phrase from Future Husband's perspective on such things, Fifth Grader appears to be "doing her time".
So the holiday season is upon us now, and I am feeling lonely. And fretful. Where normally I would feel joyous and full of anticipation. Next week is Thanksgiving. Then we begin the slow, mad descent into Christmas. Black Friday. The tree. The Nutcracker. The decorating. The music. Where is my joy? Where is my contagious anticipation? Why, oh why, did those kids have to tell Fifth Grader that Santa doesn't exist?
I think I will have try a Red Cup cure. Is the gingerbread latte out yet? Sigh.