Wednesday, September 12, 2012

baby steps

Kindergarten is hard work!
(This is Andrew crashed after the first week of school on a Saturday afternoon).

I'm not gonna lie.  It's been a rough couple of weeks.  It just isn't fun for anyone this time of year trying to get back into the routine of school and work.  Getting up at the crack of dawn and rushing to get ready, barely making it to day care in time for Andrew's bus to school.  One day we missed it.  Seriously.  I just cannot get my act together.  I am having enough trouble adjusting to the fact that not only can I not be late for work, but I now can't be one minute later than 7:20 because Andrew's bus leaves on time.  My real issue with it is that I'd rather just drive him to school myself, but I have to leave for work about 10 minutes before I am allowed to drop him off at school, so I literally drive past his school, only for him to get out of the car and immediately onto a bus that drives him straight back to school.  Nice.

The first few days of school were pretty rough for the little man.  I think he is quickly learning that Kindergarten isn't all it's cracked up to be.  It is basically all work and no play.  That's what Andrew reports.

But let me back up.

The other night I came across these precious little shoes that Andrew wore when he first learned to walk.  Of course, now they are all beat up, filthy dirty and I think there is even a hole in the front of them where the toe is wearing out.  But I saved them all these years, and I plan to save them forever.  These shoes mean so much to me.  They are a symbol of Andrew's hard work early on in his little life.  A reminder that things didn't come easy for him, but after many baby steps he beat the odds and has become a pretty amazing five year old little boy.
This has always been a favorite picture of his very first steps (22 months old).

I brought the shoes inside to show Andrew.  I explained to him that they were the shoes he wore when he took his first steps when he was a baby like Kerigan.

He looked at them.  And his eyes got tears in them.  He actually cried.

Not exactly the reaction I was expecting.

Andrew is a pretty sensitive little boy.  He has a very big heart and is very caring towards others.  I guess you could say he is emotional at times, especially when I least expect it.  I immediately put my arm around him and asked him why that upset him.  He said that he was crying because he isn't a baby anymore.  (Believe me, by this point I was holding back the tears myself!)  Oh how I longed for him to still be my baby.  Back to those special days we spent at home together when I wasn't working.  The memories that I cherish so much came flooding back.

I really believe that in that moment, he wanted to go back.  To be that baby again that didn't have to grow up, learn so many new things and have so many expectations.  When we drive by his preschool he always says "I want to go back to that school."  When I ask him why, he simply says that they got to play and they don't play anymore.

Seriously?  It's Kindergarten, people!  They are just 5 year olds.  Does everything have to be so rigorous and daunting?  Here's the thing.  Andrew loved preschool.  He adored his teacher and he learned so many new things I wasn't sure his little brain could house much more information.  He absolutely loved going to Miss Erin's class and everything about it.  Miss Erin reported to us that he was a "model student" for her and was one of the best kids on the carpet for  group time.  He was more than ready for Kindergarten.

So... you might be wondering why I was slightly shocked after day 2 of Kindergarten and his teacher told me he was having trouble sitting on the carpet and paying attention.  He needed many redirections at table jobs and he often didn't know what to do because he wasn't listening.  Yeah, I almost lost it right there.  Here I am, a teacher myself and it is certainly a tough pill to swallow hearing these things about your own child.  I'm normally the one who delivers this information to parents!  I tried to hide my embarrassment and promised to talk to Andrew about it, hopeful that he would magically turn back into that model student.  

Confused, I asked Andrew why he was acting so different in Kindergarten than he was for Miss Erin.  All I could get out of him was that he didn't want to do the work.  Ha!  I chuckled, but I was really thinking how sad it was that he is just starting at the beginning.  My heart broke to have to tell him that for the rest of his life he was going to have to do work, and do things he didn't want to do.  That school isn't all fun and games and play time.  It was reality check time.  And I just kept thinking... He's only in Kindergarten!  I'm having this conversation with my baby, who has only been in this world for five short years.  Yes, from the mouth of a teacher... why do things have to be so tough so early in life?  Why can't Kindergarten be more play time and more fun?  I feel like back when I was a kid it was.  But it's no secret that education is changing.  And for the sake of avoiding a debate... let's just say I'm not sure I like the direction it's heading.  There definitely isn't much time for fun anymore.

So, Andrew has had a lot of talks with mommy and daddy lately.  One day after another email I received from his teacher I was at my breaking point.  I will spare you all the details, but let's just say there were a couple of things that concerned me.  I sat him down and we had a heart to heart.  I was a little bit more rough on him that night, and he told me he was "done" talking!  Ha!  Then daddy came home and talked to him again, and by then he was really tired of hearing us talk!  I promised his teacher I wouldn't bug her too much (ha!) but finally last Friday I emailed her to see how his week went and she was much more encouraging.

He has been doing better, and he was observed by his wonderful teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing who has worked with Andrew since he was 5 weeks old.  She made me feel better about things, and offered some suggestions for them to try.  I also had a long conversation with his other preschool teacher at day care, Missey, who we love and trust so much.  She also has known Andrew since he was 2.  What she said really hit home with me, and I shared it with his teacher.  Missey said that Andrew really has to earn your trust.  He is cautious and doesn't just automatically buy into relationships.  It took her a long time to get through to him, but she said once she did, he was also a model student for her.  He just has to know that he can trust you.  As his mom, I don't see this as much, but it made perfect sense to me when she mentioned it.  Bless these people for loving our son, and trying to find ways to help him adjust.

The bottom line is that this has been a tough transition.  It wasn't as smooth as I thought it was going to be.  I knew he was ready, but "ready" can mean so many different things.  He has the skills.  His teacher said that he does less work than other kids who don't have half the skills he does (Nice, he's going to be the lazy kid!)  But he can do it.  He just doesn't want to.  Not just yet.

He still wants to be that baby taking his first steps... and the truth is that I wish he was still that baby too.  But now he's five.  He dresses himself, brushes his own teeth and puts his own hearing aids in in the mornings.  He is independent and confident.

But he's still a kid.

He hit all of his milestones in his own time.  He took his first steps in his own time.
And I know this transition will get easier with time.

He'll get there... We all will.

It's just going to take baby steps.

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