I wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning now. I used to wake up at 7:18 a.m. Don’t bother telling me that the “:18” isn’t significant to share. It was.
Welcome to the first week of the rest of my life. We are now beholden to a school district’s schedule. Forever. For. eh. vah.
At least it feels that way.
Q, just turned five, started kindergarten last Wednesday. Let me not moan and wail to you about “Whatever happened to summers that lasted 3 months?!” It won’t be pretty. Goose, just turned three, returned to pre-K the same day, beginning a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday schedule.
Mere months ago, I was bemoaning the fact that our new baby girl would eliminate my few free days each week to myself. Now I am rolling around on the ground, crying out that I have a few free days each week to myself until the baby is born.
Though it comes out sounding more like, “The school has stolen my babies!”
Picture the school dressed like a dingo and you’ll have a fair idea of what I look like emotionally these days.
Fortunately, I am alone in my distress. The boys are doing fabulously well. Nary a tear has fallen from eyes first opened this decade.
They are proud.
As parents, we often want to shield our children from pain and difficult challenges, but in doing so, we shield them from pride.
Goose announced this morning that, while Q is very brave at his new school, Goose would not be going to school any longer. He was very much, “Eh, I’m over it.” I said that this sounded like an interesting idea and discussed it further with him as I helped him navigate the complicated landscape that is shoes and socks.
Goose: I not go to school today.
Megan: I hear ya. Let’s talk about it in the car on the way to school.
Goose: Okay, but I not want to go to school any more.
Megan: I know, I know. But it’s good for you to go. It’ll make you stronger.
Goose: I’m already strong.
Megan: I know. I can see that. But sometimes when we do something we don’t want to do, it makes us stronger. How ‘bout this: From now on, we’ll say, “I don’t want to go to school, but… (and then you take a deep breath and say) I’m going to go anyway because it will make me stronger.”
Goose: I don’t want to go to school, but… testing out the über cool deep breathing… I’m going anyway and it’ll make me stronger.
And then he smiled. His interest in becoming strong like his dad won out over his interest in hanging out with his mom.
As we crossed the railroad tracks off the beach, the point that always signals that there is no turning back, I heard him chant his mantra from the backseat. “I don’t want to go to school, but… enthusiastically deep breathing… I go and make me strong.”
And then he smiled. To himself. Because he was proud of his mission.
I may want to cry. I may insist on secretly pouting. But allowing my boys to accomplish a difficult lifestyle change without engaging in a lot of drama is only going to make them stronger.
The easiest way to make life hard on your children is to make it soft for them. This applies far beyond school. It starts much earlier than school, as well. Remember this when you are sleep-training them. (Assuming your goal is not to co-sleep.) Yes, it is easier to just let them sleep with you, but those easy fixes may be doing long-term damage. Sure, you’ll all lose sleep for the few days it takes to establish sleeping in your own beds, but sooner than you’d expect you’ll all be sleeping better.
Then, unexpectedly, you’ll witness a toddler wandering into the kitchen the next morning, sporting a new acquisition: pride.
It hurts to see them struggle, particularly when you can end their pain so easily. However, it is invaluable to recognize that what you are ultimately protecting them from is confidence.
Pride in your mothering is one thing. Pride in your children’s self-assuredness and confident self-reliance is the mother of all accomplishments, though.
Q’s school recommends that parents of kindergartners walk their children to class the first week. After that, they strongly suggest that you simply drop them off at the door. They value self-reliance and know that it starts early. They recognize that the choice is yours.
The whole reason we chose the pre-K Montessori that both Q and Goose have attended is because their core tenet is teaching self-reliance. If their students can learn to self-direct, not wait on a teacher’s guidance or assistance, then they can flourish in any environment. They will be neither slowed by fellow students that take longer than themselves nor lost among students that catch on more quickly. They learn to set their jaw and forge ahead. Problem solve before assistance-bail.
As I watched Q stroll down the blue hallway line that leads the way to the kindergarten hall this morning, with not so much as a glance over his shoulder at my “Where the hell is my goodbye hug?” face, I knew that he had found his own way.
In more ways than one.
*Updated to point out (thanks to the comments)... This post is not about your family and your family's choice to co-sleep. That's why I said "Assuming..." There are endless pros and cons to both sides, none of which I am interested in for this post. But let me assure you, if you have chosen not to co-sleep and then end up co-sleeping, it can most definitely add some hassle to your nights.... So says the person writing this blog about said person's family. Trust me.
The example about co-sleeping has everything to do with sticking to your guns once you've made a decision. It has nothing to do with your choice to co-sleep/ breastfeed/ go organic/ teach your baby to sign while sitting in the lotus position. Ya dig?
And if ya'll insist that I dumb these posts down to the lowest-common denominator, you are going to start hating my writing. It will be twice as long and three times as dull, just so everything is spelled out to the nth degree so as not to offend even those reading with half their brains tied behind their backs. Sound like fun? Yeah. No.