The first couple weeks of kindergarten for my oldest last August were brutal.
For all of us.
He spent mornings – very early mornings since school for him started at 7:30- crying, telling us he hated school, begging us not to send him. He came home with behavior marks for things like talking at lunch.
I began the school year in defense mode. I’d read what today’s American public school system can do to kids, especially rowdy little boys. I read the blog posts about how it could break them down, turn them into soulless drones, repetitively filling out worksheets that would train them to take tests.
I began the school year with my shoulders tensed, nearly convinced this would be devastating for him, this wild spirit of a boy who OF COURSE wants to talk at lunch when it’s one of the only times during the day he’s not supposed to be listening to a grown up.
I began the school year even considering that maybe this just wouldn’t be a good fit for him. I looked into local charter schools. I considered homeschooling. You MUST know how desperate of a thought that was for me.
I was wrong.
Kendall made it through kindergarten. He didn’t just survive, he thrived. He learned to read and write. He made friends. He discovered a love for the library, and science, and he will talk to you all day about recycling, birds, and plants.
He wrote stories. He told stories. On the last day of school, he won the “Whopper Award” in his class for being such a good story teller.
He learned about bullying. He learned how to be a part of a team. He learned compassion.
I thought kindergarten would be about what Kendall would learn, about his journey, his challenges, his lessons.
I was wrong.
This year was as much about us, his parents, growing alongside with him as it was about him learning proper punctuation and how to sound out words. It was about us learning to trust others to guide him. It was about us learning to advocate for him while giving up some control to others who also had his best interest at heart.
Did he take standardized tests? Yes. Did he continue to get behavior marks for talking and not sitting still? Yes. Did it continue to be a struggle to get him out of bed and to school so early? Yes. Are there things I’d change in my Utopia about his public school experience? Yes.
But there will always be things I’d like to change to make life different… easier (?), more adaptable, at least, for my kids. I’m learning that sometimes I need to fight for change, and sometimes I need to step back and let them learn to deal.
I thought kindergarten was going to be something we’d suffer through, the first year of a long trudge through the public school system, that we’d have to fight at every turn to not rip the spirit out of our energetic boy.
I was wrong.