Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The First Week of School

Though I can't really comprehend it, my sweet little red-headed fiery whirling dervish...the boy whose name we chose because we were "happy"...started pre-kindergarten this week.

To be fair, for Aquaman it is actually pre-prekindergarten. If he had been born just one day later, he would be entering only the 3 year old class this year, and for that reason, combined with his energy level and emotional immaturity he will be going to pre-kindergarten twice.

But that didn't make it any less exciting as he pulled out in Noni's car for his 1st day, ready to face the 1st day of his 1st 5 day school week. I had to go to work and did not have the opportunity to drop him off and pick him up. All I could do was bite my nails a little for him and say a prayer.

But he seemed in good spirits about it when he came home, and I think he is ready for this new challenge. I am happy for him to have this opportunity to begin to develop himself as his own person. To find out, away from home, the things he likes and doesn't, the things he's good at and what requires a little more work. I love to see the confidence it produces in him. That he can make friends. That he can follow the rules and please his teacher. I am really grateful for the warm, supportive and not overly stimulating environment that is his preschool. A place where he can feel comfortable being who he is, but can also learn what it means to be a part of a group, and the give and take that it requires.

And, to be honest, I am ready for a little break 2 mornings a week too. Of course, we haven't gotten to the day yet where I drop him off for school, and I'm sure there will be a pang of sadness when The Dude and I set off on our own for a few hours. But I am definitely looking forward to some 1 on 1 time with the little Dude, getting to know him better.

To see what he's like when he's not showing off and trying to keep up with his big brother. To enjoy him without worrying about Aquaman injuring him in his animal-like exuberance.

And to spend more time doing the things he likes to do, like exploring the neighborhood behind his plastic Winnie the Pooh push toy, and getting really dirty.

I have been told that some of Aquaman's intensity and energy will begin to calm as he approaches the age of 4, and have noticed it happen in other children, but I am still waiting quietly for it to happen with him. He has always grown up on his own time table. In fact, just in the past few weeks he has reached a new level of exhausting testing behavior and emotional lability that verges on shocking.

But what I have to keep reminding myself is that some of these bad days are the most profitable days of all. The days when I love my son so much that I will discipline him diligently. Which means that some days he spends more time upstairs in his room than he spends downstairs with the rest of us. Which also means that some days he doesn't like me very much. And that's ok. I have the tendency to think during the 20th time that I have to correct him that what I am doing is not working, and will never work. But it's always darkest before the dawn. Somehow, that 20th time matters, and he starts to get it.

Aquaman is one of the pickiest eaters ever to grace this earth. He has finally reached an age where we can encourage him to try 1 bite of new foods without him completely losing his mind. Yesterday at dinner I put 3 pieces of carrot, and 3 grapes on his plate along with his traditional plain pasta with a pinch of salt and pureed pears. He gobbled the carrots down and then declared: "I would rather eat 100 carrots than these 3 grapes. Can I have more carrots?"
JT and I's jaws almost hit the floor.
As I cut up some more carrots for him, I realized: Just like that, he will grow and things will change.

It will never be easy. Aquaman prefers the status quo and has to have some carefully applied pressure if any changes will be made. He is not and has never been one of those adaptable children who mellow out in their own time. But you do have to know the appropriate time to apply the pressure. Do it before he's ready and everyone will regret it.

 Inevitably he will grow and change and thrive, and one day he will be a man who eats his vegetables, poops in the potty without a terrible battle, looks before he leaps (on his brother), and doesn't cry hysterically when he doesn't get his way.

The best things are always the hardest things.The best kids are always the hardest ones. And the truth is, no matter how you crack it, they're all hard in one way or another.

And with the incredible lows of having a difficult child who will test your limits every time, come the equally magnificent highs of watching him come into his own.

And the joys of sharing this short time together. Trying not to waste it with the fear of somehow messing it up. Because I wouldn't have this precious boy any other way.

"Hey mama?"

"Yes honey?"

"um, well, hey mama?"

"YES, dear?"

"Hey mama?"


"I love you Mama."

Gets me every time.


  1. Anna starts preschool on Sept. 10th. Her first preschool, and her first real experience of being away from me. I have heart palpitations when I look at the calendar and watch the August days tick away. She will go four days a week for 3 hours each day. And she will love it, I know. She loves to sing, read, learn, and be a friend. I also look forward to those three hours now for Emily and me - three hours for just the two of us - which we have never had before. But , I can't believe this time has come and off to school she goes with a brand new princess backpack and bouncy freshly-trimmed blond curls.

  2. It is definitely a bittersweet feeling. Such a good feeling to know that you have prepared them to be their own person and go out into a (very sheltered) world for a little while. I bet she will have so much fun, she seems like the perfect school candidate. I love how expressive she is in the pics on facebook! Aquaman is actually a really good kid at school. He likes to pick on those he is most comfortable with, but would be mortified to be corrected at school. ;-) You will have so much fun with just Emily. I remind myself that Aquaman got ALL that time with me when he was The Dude's age, and I try not to miss Aquaman, just enjoy the little guy. So far we have only had one day with Aquaman in school, and we ran around a lot. I am looking forward to just being with him. And even though this is Aquaman's 2nd year of school, this is the first year where I get to drop him off and pick him up 2 days a week, and I can tell he really loves me seeing and sharing this place where he finds success and enjoys new and novel experiences. Such a fun time of life for everyone, even when it is exhausting!