Friday, September 7, 2007


They've been back in school for four days now, my kids. The news is all good. One might even say it's awesome.

To begin with, all in the World of 5th-Grade Em is as it should be; she's thrilled with the teacher she got (her first male teacher! this is very exciting for her!), she has a number of friends in her class, she's excited about everything they'll be doing this year. Although she's a good student, what always stands out for teachers is her enthusiasm. It's fun to watch her get pumped up to learn. She's excited to do her 'state report.' She's excited for Colonial Day (it's in the spring, but she's already planning her outfit). She's excited for chorus to start, to find out what instrument she's going to play in orchestra, to do extra-credit current events writeups so that she gets more 'table points' towards whatever reward it is the teacher has set up for them. She was even excited to get started on her multiplication-table flashcards, which she has to do in addition to regular homework, because she didn't do well on the multiplication review test the teacher gave them.

None of this is a surprise. This is, and always has been, Em. She's happy, she's interested, she's capable, she's motivated. She loves being around all the other kids, but doesn't get overly involved in cliques and infighting--except when it involves her best friend, which it often does, but that's another story for another time. She's bright enough to do well without having to kill herself, but not so bright that school bores her. With Em, it's all good. This will likely change now that true adolescence is boring down on us, but for now...all good.

All is good with N, too, but that...that is a HUGE surprise. After his entry into kindergarten last year--where his teacher had to physically pull him, crying, into the room on the first day, and then had to hold his hand and walk him into the room for months afterwards--I was a leeeetle nervous about the first day of first grade. So was N. In fact, as he announced to me the day before, "Emmy's excited of fifth grade. I'm scared of first grade. That's what's different about us."

Except...he couldn't have done better. And the circumstances were far from idea. Both his kindy teacher and I had made requests/recommendations about his placement this year, and I had expected those requests to go through, so had talked to him a little bit about the teacher he'd be getting, and how it was going to be a class with first graders AND kindergarteners, and that would be cool, because he could show them what to do in school, etc. Except when we got to school, it turned out he was NOT put in the split class--and two of the kids whose parents had requested NO split WERE put in whatever on that--and he had a different teacher than I'd told him he might, and there are only three kids from his last year's class with him, in a class of 20.

And was fine. Baroy and I dropped Em off at her room, and then walked N into his. We found his desk--his first ever assigned seat, with his name taped across the top...awwwww--and unpacked his backpack together. The little girl who would be sitting across from him came walking into the room then, and I couldn't help but smile, because it was HER. N's "loving girl." (Last year, we'd gotten a picture of the whole kindergarten, and N had pointed to a girl from one of the other kindy classes and said, "See that? That's my loving girl!" And it was the first I'd heard of her, and I couldn't get him to tell me her name or what he meant by "loving girl", but damn that's a cute turn of phrase, and I've remembered her always since. And then it turned out that she's the daughter of friends of friends, and we saw her a lot this summer at our Sunday Music in the Park gatherings, where she would squeal and chase N around the park, and he would pretend to be above it all, except he would be grinning from ear to ear while he shrieked and ran away. That's true love when you're 6.) Just seeing her there made me happy. How could it be a bad year if N's Loving Girl was right across from him?

And so, I leaned down and said, "OK, sweetie, it's time for me to go." And N...well, he gave me a smile, and a big hug and kiss, and said, "Bye, Mama. Bye, Daddy." And then he turned around to face the teacher and...that was that. The teacher told us it was OK to stay for a few moments while she did roll call, but I was already in the back of the room near the door, so I watched while she called N's name, and he raised his hand and said "Here." Just like all the other kids. Spoke right out loud, right there, right then, in his classroom. Something that took, oh, well over a month in kindergarten. And then didn't even flinch when I walked out of the room, whereas last year used to involve peeling him off of me.

When I picked him up after school that day and joined the chorus of parents asking "How was your first day?" I got a huge grin, a thumbs up, and an "Awwwwwwwesome! I love first grade!" And now, after four full days of school, I'm still getting that same response: I love my new class. I love my new teacher. First grade is awesome, Mom.

Awesome indeed.


Elizabeth said...

That *is* awesome.

po said...

That's sooooooo wonderful!! I am so happy for you guys!

Tamar said...

Yay N! Yay N's teacher! Maybe the principal sensed a good match there.

D's got a great situation too. His teachers are taking the social/emotional stuff very seriously, unlike last year. I want to hug them.

Rich | Championable said...

This was a great thing to read on a Sunday morning. Super glad for you, my friend.