Violet was so ready for school when she started kindergarten. Â She had been ready for years. Â As Rob is fond of saying, “She would move out and get her own apartment if we let her.” Â I had no qualms dropping her off that day, except an overwhelming curiosity to see how she went about taking over the classroom.
Graham, on the other hand, I was not so sure about. Â Although at the end of our last year home together he mentioned, apologetically, “Mom, I’m getting a little tired of just you and me”, I know that he is, at heart, a home-body. Â He needs some lay-on-the-floor-playing-pretend time, or some jump-on-the-couch-talking-to-himself time, or some follow-mommy-around time. Â So I was worried about how he would react to the move from 3 mornings of preschool a week to five 8 hour days a week. Â That’s a full time job. Â Kindergarteners didn’t have this rigorous schedule when I was five. Â We had 1/2 days, which included nap-time and a snack. Â Not so anymore.
We tried to get him ready for this experience over the summer by enrolling him in a couple weeks of Spanish immersion camp, six hours a day. Â Then we met his teacher and visited his classroom. Â I think it helped a bit. Â I don’t know if it helped me, though. Â The first morning, Graham put on a brave face. Â But when he got to his classroom, it disappeared. Â He hid behind me and didn’t want to go in. Â When he finally found his seat and started chatting with a couple of friendly boys, things started to look up. Â Then another boy came in, sat down next to Graham, and started to sob. Â This undid Graham, because it was so obviously what he was feeling too. Â I kept waiting for the teacher to shoo us out of the room, but she didn’t. Â So all of the parents stood around, repeating encouraging phrases and glancing helplessly at the door. Â It was torture. Â But no one wanted to be the first to leave. Â (“Wow, my parents couldn’t waitÂ to get out of here and abandon me. “)
FInally, it was time to go. Â I crowbarred Graham’s arms from my waist, set him down next to the wailing boy, cheerfully said good-bye and walked out. Â Of course, that is when I completely fell apart. Â We stayed long enough to see them sitting down in circle time. Â Graham seemed nervous, but steady enough. Â I went home and cried for a few hours. Â (I had scheduled a day for that kind of thing.)
At pick up that week he was very subdued. Â Didn’t crack a smile when I arrived. Â Didn’t say a word until we got home. Â I was worried. Â Every day he answered my “How was school?” with “Bad.” Â Then “Not so good.” Â Finally, on Friday he said, “I think it was okay… but also not good.” Â The next week he smiled at pick-up.
Three months later, he missed his first day of school. Â When we picked up Violet, we had to drive past his class. Â He rolled down his window to say hi. Â The whole group jumped up and cheered and cheered. Â “We miss you! Â Come back to school!” Â I thought his head might explode from happiness. Â Turns out, Graham loves school, and school loves Graham. Â He has a deep appreciation for rules and homework and schedule. Â His class is full of sweet kids who love each other so much they play a game called Huggy Monster which basically means they hug each other until everyone falls into a big pile on the carpet. Â He has several girlfriends. Â He hasn’t been in Time Out once. Â As Violet said, “Graham is going to have a tooootally different year in kindergarten than me.”
So, I guess I’m the one who is still navigating the transition. Â But that is another post.