It’s so hard to keep perspective.  A cold and cough swept through the family, Jaden then me then Shayla, with 2.5 sick days and a sick weekend, which feels especially cruel. Jaden’s better, but woke up grumpy. “Don’t talk to me,” he howled when I suggested he get dressed. Then he cried and cried when his sister left for school before us, taking advantage both of 5th Grade Privilege (walking by herself to school) and the fact her little brother didn’t have any pants on.

We finally got there. “First month of school,” a wise mom said, seeing the look on my face.

Wow. Yeah, first month of school. Putting all the craziness in that frame makes it easier to take somehow. We’re all adjusting.

In the same way, I try to remember that Jaden’s outbursts are his overdue terrible twos and threes. He was such a sweet and kind kid at those ages, but he missed something, traumatized out of the power struggle that’s part of being a terrorizing toddler. Don’t worry, he’s catching up.

Coming home I was brooding on the seasons, the relentless bam-bam-bam where the start of school slips right into Christmas before anybody can get a footing. It’s hot and beautiful, but the rains must be coming before too long.

I flash on the typical first downpour after the dry summer. It’s a joy to have the cool, and the wet. The plants breathe a sigh of relief. But then suddenly it’s coming down hard, and someone looks out on the balcony — probably after dark — and says “it’s flooding!” Of course it is because I didn’t clear the leaves from the teeny gutter downspouts, so I put on a raincoat and stand on the balcony railing and feel around in the trouble spot on the roof, flinging wet fistfuls of matted leaves out to clear the clog. The lake on the roof begins to drain, the overflow stops pouring onto the balcony. I come inside wet but my heartbeat is calming. Once more collapse is avoided, though only at the last minute.

Not this year, I think as I get home. I get out the extension ladder, haul the broom up to the roof, sweep up the mountains of sharp oak leaves pooled everywhere in our weird 1940s built-into-the-roof gutters. Each tiny downspout has a little wire bulb that keeps leaves from coming in, and I shake each out and sweep and sweep until it’s all clear.

I’m on a roll so I go down and throw the hose up onto the roof, and climb back up. The solar panels are light yellow with oak tree pollen, and I hose them off, hoping the cleaning will bring in a little extra sun power, save the planet a pound of CO2 emissions.

On the roof somehow I get thinking about the guy who’d lived in my SF cottage for so many years before I bought it, an oldschool fixer-upper who did woodworking and patched and painted and kept the windows in perfect order. He’s a guy my dad could have talked to for a long time, about flashing and bushings and sills. By that standard I’m not so handy I guess. There’s so little time.

But still. It’s a good day, I think, as I climb down from the roof sweaty and late for work. I might have avoided this year’s first-rain flood. It’s the first month of school, and we survived our first cold. Things are going to be ok.