Revisioning

June 02,2011
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

As part of the process of saying goodbye to the past six years of L.'s elementary school life, I've been using a little bit of my office time here and there to sort through old entries on my personal blog, which is no longer up and running. I started it back in 2006, before L. even turned six, and T. was just two years old. It's a time capsule, if ever there was one. If I click through it I can find pictures like this

L.'s first day of first grade. Look! He's actually carrying a lunchbox and wearing SANDALS and clothes that he would wear both at school and home.

I find pictures that make my eyes well up with tears, like this:

T. with my grandmother, the last summer we spent in Greece. She passed away not even a year later. What if I hadn't taken that picture? Worse yet, what if we hadn't travelled to Greece that summer?

Sometimes the pictures hurt, when I realize how much things have changed. I might see something in a picture that would be an impossibility now. In one picture the kids are at an Indian Divali festival and both of them are sprawled out on a blanket. T.'s half-finished lunch--some lentil dish with dal is sitting right next to L.'s head. Today he would place himself about ten feet from that styrofoam plate, and would have wandered off during lunch, grossed out and nauseated by the food we were eating. What happened, I wondered, to worsen his sensory threshold over the years?

Sometimes I feel reassured. I read about things we were dealing with three years ago and I see that they are not all that different from what we are dealing with now. Maybe they seem worse now, but I know they also seemed really bad then. I read about the frequency of T.'s seizure-like migraine headaches back when she was just two, and three and four--when an episode would knock her out for 18 hours. I think about how this rarely happens now and I feel reassured, and relieved inside.

I found this picture, too, from when L. was in second grade. I had to smile and laugh a little when I looked at it.

Because I still like his answer better.