Let’s start off with a bit of housekeeping stuff. I’m seriously considering changing the name of this blog to Family. Work. Kindergarten. because obviously that now consumes all of my emotional energy and I can no longer write about anything else.
But I probably won’t because it seems like a lot of work. Anyway.
I have some good news on the kindergarten front. We’re going to survive! Last Wednesday I got the teeniest little glimpse that things were looking up and every day since then has improved. But let me back up.
My boy has been happy to get on the bus, and happy to come home. But as for the stuff in between…let’s just say that it’s been hard to figure out what’s been going on there. Drawing stuff out of him has been hard. And the things that have come out have been…less than positive. I tried to keep an open mind because I knew it was the beginning of the year and that we were still getting in the swing of things.
When he brought home worksheets practicing writing the number “2” twenty times and told me how they practiced counting to ten I reminded myself that kids come in at all different levels and that the teacher is still reviewing concepts and assessing the varied skills of the students. When he told me school was boring I promised him it would get harder. When he told me he didn’t have enough time to eat his lunch so he was hungry, I told him he needs to focus on eating instead of talking.
When he told me he had no friends and that “the playground is so crowded that when I play with kids I lose them” my heart broke, but I told him he’d make friends soon. And when he told me that he tries to listen to the teacher but the kid next to him was really distracting, I gave him tips on how to help the other boy pay attention. When he told me they have no PE class, I got mad.
Overall, it wasn’t going too well. But I didn’t want to jump off the deep end and chose to give it some time. And I also recognized that by the end of the day, Conlan was worn out and grumpy and found it way too hard to reach into his little brain and tell me anything of value about his day.
“How was your day?” I’d ask.
“Fine,” he’d respond.
“What did you write about in your journal today?” I’d inquire.
“I can’t remember!” he’d wail. And I realized he was actually telling the truth. It was just too much, too soon.
My boy, who quit snuggling long ago, began climbing into my lap. He needed security. Familiarity. To be reminded of what it’s like to be valued and noticed and loved instead of feeling like just another kid in the midst of the chaos. We played Legos. We read books. And slowly, I’d learn things. He’d quietly sing a song he learned in music. He’d tell me about a book his teacher read. And he kept talking about the little boy who sat next to him who was seriously affecting his attitude about school and driving him bananas. We’ll call him Ethan.
I tucked him in that night. “I’m so glad I get to hear about Kindergarten, Conlan. I know you’re having a hard time, but I need to know why. You can’t just say you don’t like it – Daddy and I can’t help you if we don’t know what the problem is. Please tell us more about what you don’t like so we can try and help you fix it. You’re going to love Kindergarten and do so great, and we’re here to help you. We’re on your team.“
Curriculum night came. Our whole family went. And wouldn’t you know it, Ethan was there. And let’s just say, we realized our little Conlan had lost the seat assignment lottery.
Ethan was a bulldozer.
Everywhere he went he knocked things over. He stepped on other kids’ creations. He crawled under chairs and tables and didn’t follow any instructions. And I didn’t really know what to do. Kids come into kindergarten with different levels of skills and development and personalities, and I couldn’t very well ask that my son be moved away from this kid, could I? That didn’t seem fair. The only thing I could do was equip Conlan to help this little boy learn how to be a good neighbor in kindergarten.
My husband wasn’t struggling with such conflicted thoughts. He marched right up to the teacher at the end of the night and told her that Ethan was affecting Conlan’s learning environment and something needed to be done since it was impacting his whole attitude about kindergarten.
Thank you, dear husband.
We got in the car to head home and explained we had talked to his teacher. “We’re on your team, Conlan. Team Slaney.” He nodded. He looked relieved. “Can we get take-out for dinner?” he asked. And even though I had dinner in the slow cooker, we went through the drive-thru and picked him up an order of sympathy nuggets.
The next day was better. As he got on the bus I wished him a good day and reminded him we’re on his team. “Team Slaney,” he said, rolling his eyes. Ethan ended up having a better day. Still, I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what was going on in the classroom and Conlan was still too worn out to help me figure it out.
Until last Wednesday, when late in the evening he popped up and said, “Oh! Today I got to do first grade math, and it was so fun!“
As a math pre-test they do the end-of-year-assessment early in the year in order to compare scores in June. To my little math-lover, this was finally something fun, engaging, and challenging.
The next day he told me he tried to spell “water” in his journal. “But I don’t really know how. I only spelled it WR.”
“That’s exactly right, Conlan! There is a W and R in water. Great job!” His little eyes lit up. “There are?“
On Friday he got recognition from the teacher for being a good helper in class.
And each day since then, he’s been a little more positive. On Tuesday he proudly told me he tried to write “I went camping for 2 days” in his journal. Yesterday I asked, “What type of a day was today?” and for the very first time, he said, “It was a great day!” He was so busy telling me about his day that I could barely get him in the car.
And I’m sure that the rest of kindergarten won’t be all rainbows and unicorns, but I do believe, dear friends, that we’re going to make it.
Because, sweet boy, we’re on your team. Go Team Slaney.