This is the first in a series of parenting observations and more…
Back to School: Listen and Learn
When I was a kid, I started daydreaming about the upcoming school year soon after the previous one came to a close. What would I learn about next? Would new kids move to our town? I couldn’t wait to find out who my new teacher would be. To be honest, I even looked forward to screeching my sneaker across the freshly lacquered floors of the gymnasium on the first day of school. Nerdy, nerdy, nerd…weirdo…I know. Still, the promise of a new school year kept me dreaming; dreaming of new friends, possible romances and an older, cooler, smarter new me.
Cooler and smarter are certainly debatable, but older has been guaranteed. Surprisingly, I still feel a surge of energy when the academic world comes buzzing back to life this time of year.
My oldest child began preschool this past January. I was very excited to see her begin her academic journey, but had some anxiety at first. Deciding whether or not to start her mid-year kept me awake at night. I felt she was ready, but was worried that she might have a hard time transitioning in as the new kid amongst a class of ten who had already been together for four months. Giving my daughter a positive first experience with school was extremely important.
I took my daughter with me for a tour of the school. I immediately felt at ease as I watched my daughter interact happily with the other kids. She quickly joined in, playing with Play-Doh, practicing with safety scissors, sharing the toys quite peacefully. There was a spark in her eye. She didn’t want to leave when it was time to end our tour and my mind was settled. She was ready.
Beginning school mid-year went so smoothly, making my month of deliberation seem like a big waste of time. Still, I can’t seem to control my natural inclination to obsess over decisions that will impact my children and I am still finding myself awake well into the night.
With the new school year upon us, at least I knew that I could relax about one thing: my daughter likes school. But, no…oh no, not so fast, mama…
“I hate school!” she informed me a few weeks ago as I happily reminded her how lucky she is that school will be starting up again soon.
“What? You don’t mean that!” I replied.
“Yes, I do. I hate school!”
Seriously, how could this be? How could any child of mine hate school? Again, I am agonizing over my decisions. Have I been coming on too strong? Is she turning the screws on me already at 3 1/2 years old, knowing that hating school will drive me crazy? Or, does my daughter have some valid reason for not wanting to go back.
I decide to question her the next time she says those painful words.
“Why do you hate school?” I ask, “Please be specific so I understand.”
She looks out the window of our car as I drive along, pondering the question.
“Well…”she begins, “…my teacher doesn’t let me chew gum in class.”
“Any other reason?” I ask, “Or is that it?”
“That’s it,” she says.
Big sigh of relief. I explain the many reasons teachers enforce this rule and agree with her that it would be nice to chew gum in class sometimes. Alas, she can’t. In the end, she lets it go, with the agreement that I will let her chew gum on the way home from school and maybe in the tubby sometimes.
We are both looking forward to school again.
Natasha Panzer is a mother, wife, writer and teacher. She grew up in Pawling where she now lives with her husband and two children.