My son started pre-school this week, and as he walked in the door on his first day, I tried to hold back all my fears and hesitations.
Kids start school. Kids start school all the time. It’s part of the American way. You hit a certain age, and then school is your life, for the next twenty years. Unless something goes terribly wrong, or you opt out (which let’s face it, most parents in my educational class would classify as horribly wrong) you are on the academic calendar, subject to the educational ethos, until adulthood.
When considering whether or not to have kids over the years, school was always squarely in the why not to column. I hated school. And I was a smart kid. I liked learning, I liked reading, and these activities were wholly encouraged on the home front. But I hated first grade. I hated second grade. I don’t remember 3rd except I think I wasn’t allowed to be friends with either of my two friends anymore. Fourth grade, we moved, and it started promising but was fucking awful. Fifth grade too, also junior high.
Why do some kids get picked on? What vibe did I give off, from kindergarten to junior high,, that made me the girl to pick on? I was picked on by both genders, and it didn’t stop until I switched to private school in high school. Was it public v private? Was it something I did differently between junior high and high school? I felt like exactly the same person, but high school, at least the school part of it, was way better. I think once you hit high school, kids realize that not liking somebody doesn’t mean you have to tell that person, or encourage others to not like that person.
C was really excited about school, he’s been ready for it since June, and on that morning of the first day he pushed me aside and said “you can go now mommy.”
We had a few rough patches, and his first-day-thrill waned on days two and three, and we’ll see how it goes when he starts another 3-day school week on Monday. But as it becomes apparent that C is entirely his own individual, it also becomes apparent that my fears for him stem not from his needs and fears, but from my own.
I really don’t want C to go through what I went through. I don’t want his classmates to be mean to him for some reason that he can’t even fathom. I want him to be all the things I’m not. I’m so proud of him for being outgoing and positive, for his curiosity to explore, his interest in what makes things be how they are, how when he asks me where water comes from he listens patiently as I explain about molecules.
To me C is the embodiment of everything that is beautiful in the world. He is a bright spot, he is lightness.
I have to guide him in that lightness, in that positivity he has, in that willingness he has to be part of everything around him instead of my standard run-and-hide approach.
I keep reminding myself that my son is not me. It’s not easy, because he was inexorably linked to me just three years ago. I imagine I will be repeating this mantra all through his educational career, and if my mom’s to be believed, all through his adulthood as well.