Our school year has finally begun! And not a moment too soon, I think. I had a difficult time doing much of anything this summer for some reason. Mike had a hard time picking up the slack because he was under extreme stress from work and worry for the health of his parents. So the girls had a massively high level of cabin fever and were ready to be among their own people, having recess and music, art and STEAM. Even if it meant homework and getting up early on purpose.
Rachael is in 3rd grade, which is insane, and I refuse to accept it. She’s approaching tweendom, with the rolling of the eyes, the annoyed attitude, and the noticing of boys. After Back to School Night and Open House, I was a bit concerned over whether Rachael would have a good year. And by a bit concerned, I mean I was kind of panicking and burst into an ugly cry after we got the girls into bed that night. I had heard that third grade was a big jump from second grade, but after her teacher’s presentation all I could think was, Oh my god! This is where the magic of learning comes to die. I was also completely turned off when her teacher announced that there was no excuse for failing to complete the homework for each night. After all, if she can teach all day and take classes at night to earn her doctorate, then our families are certainly able to ensure that our children complete their homework. Look, I don’t have a problem with insisting on homework completion; that’s not the issue here. Her seemingly myopic view of reality, in which she seemed to preemptively take offense at the notion that we all don’t have our shit together, (because she has hers together) just gets my back up. Believe it or not, it is actually rather hard to squeeze in time for homework when you only have four hours to do a combination of the following: have a snack and recover from your day; spend time in time out for rolling eyes at mom/talking and/or screaming back; any after-school clubs and activities; dance class; dinner; chores; parents can’t help you read a word in your homework because your younger sister is having a complete meltdown; shower; read before bed. But, I’m trying to let it go, (obviously, because I’m blogging about it) and hope that this is just a case of a not so great first impression. Rachael seems to really like her. Also, they’re going to be studying rocks and soil this year, which is totally in Rachael’s wheelhouse, especially after just having gone to geology camp a couple of weeks ago.
I also hope that Rachael will work at establishing some more friendships this year. Rachael is such a shy introvert that, prior to this year, she’s really only put her time and effort into her one best friend. Unfortunately, her best friend is going to the gifted and talented elementary school this year. Rachael will still see and play with her, as they just live around the corner. She complained last year of feeling lonely. I have explained to her over and over again that it’s fine to be an introvert, but if you want someone to be friends and want to play with you, you have to put in the effort now. You actually have to speak to people and try to engage with them. I asked her if she played with anyone at recess yesterday. She said no, she did her own thing. “But, I talked with people at lunch and at my table in class. Happy?” This morning, I introduced her to the older brother of Zoë’s new kindergarten best friend. He is also in third grade, and doesn’t know many people because he has been homeschooled prior to this year. I figured, he needs a new friend, she needs a new friend, win win win. Right? Guys, if the scowls little girls give could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this.
In the days leading up to the first day of school, I had never seen Zoë so anxious about anything. Maybe because it was one of the few times when she managed to put her fears into words, rather than simply acting out. Oddly enough, she was really focused on worry over not being able to operate the computers and their programs correctly. I think she felt a bit of relief once we met her teachers and saw her classroom. Fun fact: although she has a teacher who is new to the school, it’s the same classroom Rachael was in for kindergarten and the same assistant teacher! I’m thankful for the teacher Zoë has. She’s been teaching for 20 years, holds degrees in both general and special education, and has four children of her own. So, just like the Femputer on Futurama, she know what do. There will be an additional special education teacher in the room to assist Zoë. While Zoë is fine, academically, for kindergarten, she does have an IEP for ADHD and the social behavioral issues which stem from that disorder. So we feel like she’s in really good hands and feel good about our decision to send her on to kindergarten.
It was exciting on Back to School Night to find out that a friend from Zoë’s preschool class would be in her class this year! Zoë was also introduced to another little girl by her teacher that night who, lo and behold, we found at our bus stop yesterday! They were so excited to see each other! I know it made Zoë’s apprehensiveness, with regard to riding the bus, lower just a bit. Once the bus came, Zoë knew the drill and dutifully walked toward the bus steps. I practically had to grab her in order to kiss her goodbye because she was so focused on her mission. At the bottom of the steps, she paused and looked up at the driver hesitantly. With some gentle encouragement from the driver, Zoë almost literally climbed those huge bus steps. Mike and I watched Zoë and her friend as they tried to figure out where they should sit, finally settling on the seat behind the driver. And, in all the chaos and focusing on Zoë, Mike and I failed as parents and accidentally didn’t say goodbye to Rachael. I made sure to give her extra hugs and attention when they got home.
Zoë was exhausted when she came home. She had had a great first day of kindergarten! She was terribly excited to have gone to the library and checked out her first book, Silverlicious. (Okay, I like the Pinkalicious series, but can we all agree that Pinkalicious is a giant brat, and it’s probably because her parents never seem to punish her for bad behavior?) The class took a tour of the school, under the pretense of looking for the mouse from, If You Bring a Mouse to School. Zoë giggled as she showed me the movements they learned during the movement activities her class did, forming a potato with her arms over her head, and then peeling the potato one arm at a time. She made a fish tail with her hands on her lower back and wiggled her toush, demonstrating how the students maintain their personal space in line. As Zoë chattered on and on about the things they did at school, her new best friend from class and the bus stop, and how she wanted to make a pretend school classroom of her own, it was clear that her anxiety about kindergarten had been dropped on the ground and left behind. After all, she had better things to do.