My son started a new school this year. His preschool included kindergarten so we decided to keep him there last year because the class sizes were very small. We thought the extra attention would be good for him. He had a great kindergarten year. The only bad part is that it meant he would have to start a new school this year for first grade.
He can be a little shy and introverted so the first day of school was kind of hard on him. It was even overwhelming for me. So many students, big classrooms, and even bigger kids. He had never experienced anything like it.
My husband and I went together to drop him off on his first day. We took him into his classroom, introduced him to his teacher and found his seat for him. And then as we turned to leave, tears welled up in his eyes and I’ve never seen him look so scared. I kept saying “It’s gonna be really fun” but my heart sank as we left the school.
When I picked him up that afternoon, however, he was happy and excited and proclaimed first grade to be “awesome”. I was relieved. Things were going to be fine.
But as the first couple of weeks went on, he got more and more hesitant about school. The first thing he’d say in the morning was that he didn’t want to go to school and then he’d repeat that mantra the whole drive there. I was feeling a little worried but got even more so on the last day of the second week.
We were outside the school waiting for his teacher to come out and escort the students in. All the kids were laughing and talking and playing around while they waited. But my son would not leave my side. He didn’t really know anyone yet and didn’t feel comfortable with any of the kids. I told him I would take him over to meet some of the boys but he refused my offer and continued to look extremely sad and lonely. It literally broke my heart into a million pieces.
As he followed his teacher in that morning, big, giant, silent tears streamed down his cheeks. He waved a sad goodbye to me. My heart was completely ripped out at this point. I cried all the way home. And then I started to panic. What if he doesn’t make any friends? What if he spends his recess time alone on the playground? What if no one is nice to him?
I knew I had to do something to help. I emailed the room mother whom I had previously met and asked her if she could introduce us to some of the boys in class and maybe we could set up some play dates. That afternoon, I got three emails from three different Moms inviting us to get together. This school was awesome. I felt much better.
And then a few days later, as I arrived at the school to pick him up, I saw him in deep animated conversation with a classmate. When I reached the boys, they looked up and asked simultaneously, “Can we have a play date together?” He had made a friend! And not only a friend it seems he has made a best buddy. And it wasn’t even one of the boys I had arranged a play date with. He had made this friend all on his own. And since then, they have added a couple of more buddies to their group and now things are wonderful!
I learned so much from this little experience. I think as mothers we always want to fix things for our kids. It’s so hard to see your little ones go through challenges. But he taught me that even though he’s only in first grade, he could figure this situation out on his own. I know as he grows the challenges will get bigger and I now see the value in trusting your kids to handle certain things their way. That’s how character gets built.
I’m sure the play dates we planned gave him a little more confidence at school so I think it was a valuable thing to do but I can’t even express the joy I feel in seeing him thriving in this new environment.
I’m sure you Moms with older kids are nodding your head and laughing. He’s my first so I’m learning as I go. I guess he and I are both learning as we go. And I know we have so much more ahead.
I have a feeling my heart’s gonna break a thousand more times before we are through. But I suppose therein lies the beauty.