Saturday, September 11, 2010

The First Week of School

7 years, 9 months, 2 days. Waiting. I had been counting down the years, months and days until all my boys would be in school if only for a few short hours a couple of days a week in Little One's case. Finally I would have a little time to myself. Real time to myself without creating it by paying a babysitter or swapping the kids with friends. So you can imagine my surprise when I spent the whole first day of school feeling sick to my stomach. This was especially surprising because my husband took the day off so we could send off the boys together and then have a few hours alone, just the two of us. Even with my husband there, I felt a little lost while Little One was in school, like a part of my body was missing. You know the part that stands under you as you try to talk to your husband or keeps angling the grocery cart toward the cans of food in the store. I thought the sick feeling would go away when we picked up Little One from his preschool class. We got to the car line early, first in line which I knew he would love. When he walked out the door with his teacher, he was smiling, happy to be at school, looking so big with his back pack and all his class mates walking in line. He loved his first day he said. And then he said, "I want to stay home with you tomorrow." I guess he missed me. While he likes school and wanted to go back the next time, I am glad he only goes two days a week so we can still cuddle and hangout together.

The sick feeling should have been gone once we picked up my baby. But it did not. It is hard to let go of your kids. As much as I want the break in my day, to think, be quiet and maybe get a few things done without whining or fighting, I don't like feeling so far removed from my kids. I don't like not knowing what is happening throughout their day. I don't like knowing that not every teacher, not every kid will be the best fit for my boys. I don't like knowing that my kids will struggle and I won't be right there to help them through. I know this from experience because Middle Man had a very long, very hard kindergarten year. If he did not like going to school so much, I think I would have pulled him out by Thanksgiving. There were meetings. There were changes. Progress was made. Behavior regressed. Boredom became disruptive. At one point I simply gave up trying to work through the problem because Middle Man was happy. He did not see the problems. Throughout most of the year, Middle Man wanted to go to school. He liked school. It was not until the last month of school that he started to say he did not want to go. Summer was right around the corner and he made it through kindergarten. We both survived.

We had a nice, lazy summer. A summer that allowed Middle Man to go at his own pace. A summer full of camps and lessons that challenged him and he loved it. A summer that gave him time and space when he needed it. And then at the beginning of August, he started asking me when school was going to start again. He started counting down the days. He was really excited about starting first grade. He started working on behaving like a first grader. He mellowed out a bit. Our typically most challenging child became our easiest one in the month of August. He was ready to start another year.

So my anxiety on the first day of school did not stop when I picked up my baby. It did not stop until my older boys were home, eating cookies and milk and telling me about their day. Even then it did not go away completely. Middle Man was cautiously optimistic but not ready to fall in love with school yet. I think after being in his new class, he slowly began to realize how hard last year actually was. Being in a better classroom setting, being a year older, having a different teacher, with a different group of kids, I think turned on the light a bit to the reality that sometimes school can be tough. So he was cautious in his assessments as was I. Last year, he kept telling me how much he liked school. How much he wanted to go to school and yet it was not a great situation last year. So we were both a bit wary.

And then a few nights later it was Middle Man's turn to pray at dinner. This is his prayer:

Dear God. Thank you for school. Thank you for Mrs. S. Amen

And that is when God showed me how much He loves my little guy. How Middle Man is His child too and while I may not be able to be in the classroom with him, riding the bus or watching him on the playground, God is with Him always. God is taking care of my Middle Man.

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