Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Step Forward

Does this look like the face of a boy ready to start the 1st grade?

Whatever you answered, you’d be correct.

Sammy loved kindergarten, and certainly learned a lot, but at the end of the year, I really wasn’t sure where he fell in the spectrum of just barely passing to perhaps he should skip a grade. So this summer, I instituted Mommy Lessons, which meant that I sat down with him just about every day (weekends excluded) and we would play phonics games, work through pages of a thick stack of workbooks, and practice reading. We’d start off each day writing in journal, which is the part he probably hated the most but the part I’ll treasure the most. I’m not Cruella DeVille here; it was only about an hour a day and most of the time, he came along willingly. All of this was to try to bridge the time so the return to school and the start of1st grade didn’t come as a complete shock to his system.

He’s been excited and happy (his words) about going back to school all along, especially knowing that his kindergarten teacher was moving up to 1st grade with his entire class. I’ll tell you that this little turn of event took an enormous amount of stress off my shoulders as well, since I didn’t have to build a new relationship with a fresh teacher this time around (avoiding social anxiety for the win!). He fairly bounced off the ceiling at meet the teacher night, checking in with his friends and how the classroom had been transformed.

Then last night, as he brushed his teeth, his head hung lower and lower until he came over to me, red-eyed, and said, “I don’t wanna go to 1st grade.” Uh oh. Realization, party of 1. I tried to calm him down, remind him that his teacher was waiting for him to have so much fun and how much he’d grown up over the summer, and he seemed to relax, as did I. This morning, I opened his bedroom door to find him smiling and reminding me that it was 1st Grade Day before he said good morning. We walked to school, released the ball of energy that is Sabrina to knock around the classroom for a few minutes, and got situated at his desk. I snapped pictures like a crazymom ™ (one day, I swear these children of mine will make eye contact with the camera), and hugged him over and over. Then the bell rang, and it was time for the parents to take their leave. As I crossed the threshold, I heard Sammy yell, “Mommy!” I turned around to see that scared, red-eyed boy from the night before suddenly sitting where the smiling, happy boy had been just seconds ago. I ran back for 1 more hug, a few more reassurances, and then I had to go. I ripped myself away, but peaked back to see him hunched over his desk, head in hands, not crying exactly, but not restored either. Man, that sucks.

I hated, HATED, to leave him in that state, but I knew there wasn’t much more I could do, and he was probably back to normal 5 minutes later anyway. But in that brief moment, I worried that I had failed him, hadn’t prepared him enough, hadn’t helped him learn to assuage his fears. He can be so sensitive, and worry about so much himself (even the old Fear of Fire Drills has reared its ugly head n recent days). Clearly, he’s my kid.

I want to protect him. I want to give him independence. I want to build him confidence. I want to preserve his naiveté. Mostly, today, I just want him to come home with a smile on his face instead of worry lines. We’ll tackle tomorrow tomorrow.

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