Sunday, September 15, 2013

Back To School

Parenting has a way of continually throwing you into unchartered territory.  You can never anticipate what each new age and stage will hold and how your role as a parent will change.  You have to be willing to bend.  You have to be willing to negotiate.  Most importantly, you have to be willing to learn as you go.  There are no books that can tell you exactly what your child will need from you each step of the way.  In fact, my three kids all have very different personalities and my parenting style is constantly changing with each child and each situation.  Back to school time brings all kinds of new challenges and emotions not to mention crazy schedules. 

First day of PreK!
 This year I decided to move Paige to our Holly Road location to do PreK.  It was a tough decision because she has developed some serious friendships with the girls she has been with since the infant room.  As bad as I felt taking her away from her current friends, I knew in my heart that Paige needed to be separate from me for a year before Kindergarten.  She needed her own environment and to stand on her own two feet without running down the hall to see me at my desk multiple times a day.  Its a blessing to be able to bring my kids to work with me but I learned after sending Carter to Kindergarten that it doesn't really provide them a sense of independence that other kids develop as they learn to navigate through their days without Mama being down the hall.  I wanted this challenge for her and...she is doing terrific!  She feels so special going to her new school all by herself and I'm so proud of her for being so brave.  This girl is going places:)

Carter is a big 1st Grader this year.  No longer the baby of the school.  He seems older, more mature.  I
still cannot believe how much he learned in Kindergarten last year and can't imagine what he will know by the end of this year.  Its exciting to watch him turn into a young boy.   If you don't remember last years debacle on the first day of school, click here.   Ya know, the one where he got BLUE on the first day of school for kicking someone and my head almost popped off from exasperation that he would really do that on his first day in the real world!!!  Yeah.... luckily that did not happen this year.  The first week of school was great.  Carter was happy to see his friends and liked his new teacher.  He says that all you do is work in 1st grade.  There is no free choice, toys or games.  That was a bit of a shock but he is beginning the acceptance phase so hopefully we will be well on our way.  Last years biggest problem was the behavior color chart.  His whole world revolved around what color he got.  If he got a bad color, he would lose privileges at home and if he got a good color, we would positively reinforce that behavior or earn rewards.  Towards the end of the year it was brutal.  We were like "Enough Already!," with the colors.  I happen to care quite a bit if he were to hit or push someone but I have to admit that I really don't care if he touched the projector while on the rug.  I'd like to care but I just don't.  He was five and they have grabby hands, what am I supposed to do?!  This year we have a new issue.  One that literally almost broke my heart in two.  Thursday of last week, Carter claimed he had a stomach ache right before leaving to get on the bus.  I didn't really believe him since he was totally normal all morning.  I sent him to school and told him to have his teacher call me if he didn't feel better. A few hours passed and I decided to call her and check on him, she said he was "Absolutely wonderful."  Not sick.  Hmm.  The reason this is so interesting is that he would never fake sick.  He actually tries to lie to me when he is sick and tell me he isn't because he HATES being sick.  He is kind of a germ-a-phob and the whole idea of sickness freaks him out.  Friday morning rolls around and he is fine all morning once again until its time to put his shoes on.  Sick again, he claims.  This time he is really selling me.  He is laying on the floor, rocking back and forth holding his stomach in tears about being sick.  We get all the way to the bus stop and I gave him a choice:  go to school or go to bed.  There will be no playing, no TV watching, no hanging out with Mom.  School or bed.  He chose bed.  Interesting...  We get back home, I call in to work and get him into bed.  He is really upset about how "sick" he feels.  He sleeps for an hour and a half and then miraculously feels better.  Good enough to watch TV but not good enough for school.  As his Mother, my wheels are turning.  I'm thinking about how he has been sleep walking again since the second day of school when he didn't do it all summer long.  I'm thinking that I can see a fear in his eye when he needs to grab his book bag in the morning.  Something is up and I just can't put my finger on it.  I strike a deal with him.  I say he can watch one show and then he is going to school because we do not skip school.  I reassure him I am not mad at him and that I think he was tired and now that he has had a nap- he will be just fine.  I timed taking him into school when I knew he would be getting ready for recess so I could steal a second with his teacher.  She already knew from my phone call the previous day that he allegedly wasn't feeling well and now she is aware we have had a miraculous recovery for the second day in a row.  I also clued her in that he isn't resting well since he is up before 6am everyday and sleeping walking several times a week.  She said she was going to pay close attention to him but assured me he was fine while he was there.  I could tell just by looking at her that she would figure this out.  I could tell she cared.  I left that afternoon with confidence in this woman to take care of my boy.  About 3 hours later, I got the phone call that broke my heart.  She said that she did a survey in the classroom about how everyone was feeling about 1st grade and she got back 24 papers that said "Excited or Happy" and one little guys paper said "Scared."  You can guess who that was.  I was so sad for him.  Why is my kid the only one scared?  I knew he was anxious and was praying he wasn't cursed with the Matlock anxiety gene.  I was crushed. She went on to say that they did a partner activity that afternoon and she chose Carter to be her partner so she could have a chance to talk with him.  He told her that he was scared of 1st grade because he didn't want her to flip his card.  (This is another behavior based color system.  This poor child is scarred from last year!)   She assured him that she would always give him a warning and a chance to correct his behavior before flipping a card and he seemed to feel better about that.  I also think it was beneficial for him to have a little one on one time with her just to get to know her a little better.  I am feeling so grateful that he has this particular teacher that really cares and took the time to figure out the issue, address it and help my little guy feel more secure in his new surrounding.   

The point to this story is that this is what I mean about parenting being so challenging.  Was I wrong last year to reinforce the negative colors once he got home.  It didn't seem right to take him out for ice cream if he gave his teacher a run for it during the day.  Where is the balance?  How do I know how to react?  When is it too much?  When is it not enough?  How do I lead him in the right direction without being too strict or too lenient?  This is what I do know... that I won't ever have the answers.  That I am doing the best I can.  My plan is to make sure he understands what unconditional love is.  I want him to know that I will love him more than anything in this world no matter what he does.   I want him to make good choices, I want him to be polite, I want him do the right thing, BUT, I will love him even when he doesn't.   Sheesh, he is only six!  I can only imagine what is next!  Live and learn, my friends.  And try not to screw up our kids too badly along the way.

And, Easton.  What is a blog without a little Easy update?  He is doing great!  He has been going to "school" three days a week and learning so much.  He is constantly singing songs and cracking us up with all of the off the wall stuff he says.  Like, really crazy.  I'm not sure if he got a little too much oxygen after his crazy birth or what but he is vibrant.  He is happy, he is wild and he is the biggest miracle I have ever witnessed.  He has been off all steroids and inhalers since June 1st.  We are just getting into respiratory season and I am anxious to see how he responds.  I'm prepared to bring all of the drugs back into his life for these winter months but what  a cool surprise it would be if he didn't have to!  This is his first year without the RSV prevention shot because he is too old to qualify for it.  My biggest fear is that nasty virus will take him down but I have faith those little lungs have to be in better shape than last time he had it.  Our fingers are crossed for an uneventful winter!

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