The Urge to Protect (And the First Day of School 2017)

The day my babies were born I was given an overwhelmingly powerful urge to protect them.

What this has looked like as they have grown is me wanting to protect them from falling on their faces when learning to walk, ensuring everything was okay after getting their feelings hurt, helping them navigate the dangers of the world around them, and wanting to take any sign of fear, sadness or anxiety away.

I am a rational person and am fully aware that protecting them in every way isn’t what is best for them, but it doesn’t mean that deep down I don’t want to catch them at every fall!

At the end of last year, my son expressed a big fear of “big kid” school. He had watched his sister reading the entire year while bringing home math homework and declared that since he didn’t know how to do those things that he didn’t want to go to that school.

It didn’t matter that I reassured him in every way possible that kids weren’t expected to know those things upon entering Kindergarten, he was still anxious about it.

The school also announced at the end of the year that it would be moving to all-day-kindergarten instead of the half-day we had been used to. This news took me by complete shock as I had fully expected to have my boy home with me come 11:45 every day, but the option just wasn’t there anymore as it was now mandated by the state.

His anxiety over this school lasted through the entire summer, and at about the halfway mark I started to become worried myself.

What if he isn’t ready? What if he hates it? Are we making a mistake? Full-day seems really long for a Kindergartner. Maybe we should hold him a year. He LIKES being home with me. Can’t we just have one more year? What is the right thing to do? 

To try and ease his worries about reading, I bought a book called “How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons,” which truly made me shudder. 100 easy lessons?! Sounds miserable. But, I was hoping this would be the thing to boost his confidence, so we went for it.

We only made it about halfway through before summer ended, and while he was able to sound out words, (book really does work) he was still nervous. He still had these expectations that he should be able to do a lot more. So, I continued to worry.

I tried getting him excited with new school clothes and supplies, but he truly could have cared less. He did seem to enjoy picking his backpack out, but other than that it was just another errand to him.

A week before school started we got a letter in the mail letting us know which teacher he got for school, and when I saw the teacher’s name written at the top, I literally cried tears of joy. Cal’s teacher was going to be the mom of one of my daughter’s best friends, so I knew just how wonderful she was and was beyond thrilled knowing such a wonderful and sweet person would be taking care of our boy.

A few days later we went to the school’s Ice Cream Social where students were able to meet their teacher, see their desk and become acquainted with the school. I really had high hopes that this event would ease Cal’s nerves, but it really didn’t. He wasn’t excited about any part of it and really just wanted to rush through it all to get his ice cream treat at the end.

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This only heightened my nerves as this was soooo opposite of what my daughter wanted to do. She wanted to take a photo with her teacher, arrange her supplies in her desk, look at everything in her new classroom, all of the things I remember loving to do.

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So when my son wanted nothing to do with it, there I was, back on the Worry Train. My only glimmer of hope was that I overheard him tell a friend he was a Kindergartner now with some enthusiasm in his voice.

The day before school started we had an assessment meeting with Cal’s teacher. We sat down and she asked him to write his name at the top, draw a picture of his family, and when done to go behind us and play with any of the toys he wanted to while she and I talked. About mid-conversation, I was asked if there was anything she should know, if there was anything I was worried about, or if I had any questions.

And that’s when the big lump formed in my throat. I looked back at my boy to make sure he couldn’t see my tears, and I expressed all of my fears and worries to his teacher while I lost control of my emotions.

She took one look at the picture he had drawn with his name neatly written across the top, pointed out how he was able to follow directions and confidently said,

“Shannon, he is ready.”

And that is what I needed to hear. I just needed that reassurance that our boy was ready to begin this journey and since his teacher felt he was absolutely ready to do so, that solidified it. The next day, he would start Kindergarten.

The next morning Cal did everything that was asked of him, and actually seemed interested in getting his lunch in his backpack, putting on his new outfit and taking his first day of school photos. Not one complaint! In fact, excitement!

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And then, he was urging me to go! We arrived at the school a little bit early, took some photos and his sweet sister escorted him to his classroom where he showed zero nerves.

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In fact, he eagerly did each entry activity.

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The Kindergartners do a special activity with the parents on the first day of school and it involves reading a book called The Kissing Hand and is basically the final goodbye between parents and children, and man, that one did a number on me.

After the book, Cal came up, kissed my hand goodbye, and I kissed his. We hugged and said our goodbyes, and then he was off. Now In full-day school.

And if Franklin hadn’t ripped my hair out of my head at that very moment, I am sure I would have lost it. :/

Because of that, I was able to keep it together until I walked out of the building, but it was something about walking away from the building with my two oldest babes inside of it that really got to me paired with a huge sense of relief, and I cried all the way home.

My boy was ready. And even though I may not have been, he was.

While he may have still had some fear inside, the only way of conquering that was to face it and experience it himself.

And from the wonderful stories I heard on the way home after school, it sounds like those fears are a thing of the past.

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(And for those asking about how Gwyn is liking school- she LOVES it!)

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And for a little laugh:

2017- Gwyn entering second grade… Could she be any cuter?!

1992 (aka, the year of the worst haircut EVER)-Me entering second grade…what the…

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Comments

  1. So cute! I don’t think you are ever ready. I had a lump in my throat on the first day. Here in the Netherlands kids start school at 4.They don’t “study” in the classic sense till they are 4, but mostly play and do crafts. My daughter loves it, I think it was easier for her to adjust than for me.

  2. Ah, being a mom is so tough! Sounds like you’re doing a great job!

  3. Shannon, just read this and it reasonated with me! I would DIE for half-day kinder, and the thought of school for Brielle lasting even til 1 pm (instead of 3:30) sounds so much better. I’ve been told by a few former teachers that there’s no mandates for kinder attendance, and I could pick her up anytime I want. But do I want her to be the weird girl who leaves early each day? Wah, I suppose not. Week 3 was the hardest for us, as she cried every single day at drop off. It was the worst. I cried multiple days too. I even considered home school for about 5-6 seconds, then decided my patience level simply isn’t cut out for it. Anyways, loved this post!!

    • Oh, THANK YOU, sweet friend! It is SO hard knowing sometimes what is the right thing to do with our precious babies! We want what is absolutely best for them, but do we always know what that is?! NO! GAH! I am glad Brielle is doing better now! But man, they sure do pull on our heart strings!

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