Wow friends. I had no idea the havoc kindergarten would unleash on our lives.
Charlie is struggling with focusing and finishing projects. Just that one thing, apparently, but he is having major problems and it is really getting all of us down. We've been practicing at home, we've been corresponding daily (sometimes more than that!) with his teacher, we've been encouraging him, we've celebrated his successes, we've gently but firmly reminded him that his teacher is in charge and if she says it's time to color your Mother Goose then you need to color your Mother Goose while at the same time internally questioning the importance of coloring as an academic skill for a kid who can read and add and subtract. I've come up with many professional ways to say "But he's my baby, please be gentle with him, just look at those freckles!!" and cried many, MANY tears of frustration--in the kitchen after bedtime, in my car, in my office before important meetings--wondering if he was one of those smart boys who just doesn't "do school" well, wondering if he needed to be moved to a Montessori school out in the country, wondering if I needed to quit my job so I could spend more time volunteering in his classroom. And yes, I've eaten all the chocolate in the house.
Mostly what we've done is we've held on with our fingernails waiting for that magical sixth week, after which some kind of "adjustment" is said to be complete.
I've hoped for improvement, some shred of good news every single day. There has been some. His teacher has done an excellent job at cheering him on for the good things he does. He's neat, he pushes in his chair, he's polite, he's thoughtful, he doesn't speak out of turn. He's a good boy. But this project issue seemed to be a big one.
Yesterday he came out with a note that I had to sign and send back. He wasn't completing his work, which meant he was being irresponsible.
He flung it at me and told me he didn't want to go to school today. Then he picked a fight with Wes and rode his bike far away from us.
My baby. My smart, sweet, loving baby boy who loves to learn and wants nothing more than to please his teacher, who taught himself to read this summer so he wouldn't disappoint her, did not want to go to school.
He's going to hate school, I thought. He's going to be like all those smart kids I knew growing up who got terrible grades. Who were angry and withdrawn. Who did drugs. Who ended up working at adult bookstores after graduation. This is how it starts.
There was more crying. I polished off the rest of the semisweet baking chocolate. I filled Ryan in via email and was relieved when he came home early.
After dinner I went to an information night at his school. It was supposed to be a fun little get to know the kindergarten curriculum kind of event. But I got there early and sat in the front and smiled cautiously at his teacher when I saw her.
She immediately came over and sat down. We talked for fifteen minutes. She was great. She said "I do NOT want him to hate school. I would rather he do less work than hate school. Tell him 'Do not worry about this. You will be fine. I will work with you. School should be fun.' I have lots of ideas. If he doesn't want to color, he can start with cutting and gluing. If he has to finish coloring at home where he can be alone, that is fine with me. He is not the only kid to have had this problem and I know he's a smart kid. I know he can read. He's always polite and considerate. He's a good boy. Please tell him not to worry about this any more."
And so I went home and told him what his teacher had said. He rolled over in his bed with Phent and said "I don't know. I think I'll be sick tomorrow." And I told him how when I worry about things at night my tummy feels sick the next morning. I emphasized again that his teacher said to tell him "Don't worry. Tomorrow will be better. You do not have to color."
This morning he was a new kid. He jumped out of bed before his alarm. He dressed quickly and ran downstairs for breakfast. He was cheerful and goofy and pleasant and adorable. He was HIMSELF. Ryan said he rode quickly to school and walked confidently into the building. It was a good morning. Such a good morning.
I thought about him all day, my nerves still raw and ready for another bad email, another bad note home, another blank sheet of construction paper folded into has backpack.
After my class I ran back to my office to check my phone. I texted our nanny. She responded, "GOLD STAR FOR CHARLIE TODAY!!"
I cried some more. I emailed Ryan. I exhaled for the first time in two weeks. I hope this is the start of something good.