Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baylor's First Day of First Grade! (FIRST grade?!)

Seriously?  My little buddy, my Baylor, is in first grade?  Preschool and kindergarten first days seem like not that long ago, and in my head he looks the same now as he did then, but the fact remains that he's now in first grade.

Okay, enough with the disbelief, right?

He woke up this morning full of nerves and convinced he got a terrible night's sleep.  All that quickly dissipated, though, when I asked if he wanted to wake up his sister, something he was all too happy to do.  Once we got downstairs, my two kiddos commenced their daily breakfast-eating-procrastination-and-distraction in spite of my pleas for speed.  Eventually expediency kicked in with Baylor, and he hurried up and got ready.  He chose to wear the same Batman shirt he wore for his kindergarten first day, along with some comfy shorts and Star Wars sneakers for PE.

I asked Mollie to hold off on jumping in on the picture until we got outside, then apparently I took too many pictures.  (Notice the "Seriously?  ANOTHER picture?!" look on Baylor's face.)

We got to school and apparently in the rush of last year's drop off I hadn't noticed how insanely busy it gets on the first day.  Needless to say, we had a bit of an issue getting a parking spot, but I made it work.  (Either that or I was THAT parent today.  Oh well.)  Mollie, Baylor, and I made our way to the back of the school to find the spot where he was supposed to line up, saying hi to some nervous-looking friends here and there along the way.  Upon finding the line, he stood there, not willing to put his backpack down but not crumbling under his worries either.  I was so proud of him!

(In case you are wondering, the arrow behind him points to a hole where bees have made an impressive hive for themselves.  One of Baylor's little buddies informed me it was a bad idea to stick my finger in there.  Good to know!)

The bell finally rang, and I gave Baylor a quick hug and kiss before stepping back to let the rest of his classmates get in line.  Mollie and I watched as his teacher greeted each of them one by one, her smile working overtime trying to soothe all the worries so evident in many of their eyes.  Once it was their turn to walk into school, Baylor fell in line with almost a nonchalance about him that I was thrilled to see.  Even when he looked back and saw me still standing there, he didn't get upset or flash anxiety at me, he just gave me a small smile and went on inside.

I was, and still am, crazy proud of him for how he handled the morning.  (And I let him know as much at dinner tonight, a fact that was met with the most wonderfully genuine smile I could ever hope for.)

Mollie and I then went about our day, trying not to think about missing Baylor or lamenting his absence.  We tried to do things that we couldn't do with him there, like shop for his birthday presents or attempt to let Mollie ride her bike without training wheels (he's always very concerned that she is going to get hurt if she takes off the training wheels).  After we finished our errands, we had an awkward amount of time left before school let out, so we sat in the parking lot at school, at the front of the pick-up line, for forty minutes, my left side baking in the afternoon sun.  I willed the car to start again, unlike the other time I was first in the pick-up line, and, to my delight, it did without issue.  It took a while for Baylor to get out of school, but when he finally did arrive he was all on his own, no adult behind him coaxing him to find our car. The art teacher stepped up to help him get in, and time stood still for a moment while I enjoyed the seconds where I felt relatively comfortable that school had gone well just based on how the morning went.  Soon enough, though, I asked him, "So how was first grade, buddy?" to which he replied, "It. was. AWESOME!"

Be still my heart.  Talk about music to the ears.

He went on to tell me about how there were three new friends (students) in the class, how "the most hilarious" thing to happen at school was that he found out they are allowed to sit in laundry baskets during reading time, and how he was happy playing by himself at recess.  At dinner, as we played the bad thing of the day/good thing of the day game, he said that his good thing was "everything else that happened" (besides the one bad thing he named that happened at home after school), and at bed time he said he liked his teacher a lot and even joked around about how relieved she might be if it took her a week to explain how the class works, adding a brow sweep and "Whew!" for effect.

Don't get me wrong; there were a lot of stressful, sad, anxiety-riddled moments today.  He piled on the worry like it was his job, so much like I often do in my head it hurt my heart.  He had huge blow ups over little things, like which Wild Kratts episode to watch or which book to read before bed.  (It was Mollie's choice day, and everything she selected was wrong/scary/bad/etc.)  Before bed he cried so much over all the worries he had heaped upon his shoulders, and my heart broke as his little tears ran down my legs as he laid his head in my lap and sobbed.  All I wanted to do was make it better for him, surely like my parents wanted to do for me when I struggled with back-to-school for years on end.  (Mom and Dad, I am so incredibly sorry.)  But the best I could do was redirect his attention to what good I could get him to admit to about his day, mainly the good being that he really likes his teacher.  He and I ended the evening with hugs and kisses and hopes for a better day tomorrow.

Then I came downstairs and unleashed the torrent of tears that had been building up under the surface all day long.

One of the toughest parts for me was that when he was happy he could so easily remember all the great things about the day, but when he was sad he couldn't see anything happy and piled on worry after worry, many of which were trivial (i.e., "What if I get REALLY hurt at school?" and "What if someone lies to my teacher?") and easy to address quickly, but still ... all that good had been there just a moment before the grey cloud descended.

The thing is, I know today is over and done, and there is nothing I can do about how things went.  All I can do is learn from it, and try again tomorrow.  So I'll hold onto the good and try really hard to leave the bad here, preserved but out of mind, in hopes that I can be free to embrace tomorrow morning, with all of the challenges I know are ahead (Mollie's first day of school, Baylor's first time walking to the playground before school all by himself), and have hope in my heart for a better day.

For those of you that had kiddos going back to school, I hope everything went as smoothly as possible.  Best wishes for a happy, healthy school year!

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