Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fraternizing Friday: Back Packs

 Two Little Boys, A little girl. standing in front of a house. Each started out with Snuggled Shoulders. A bag that hung on their back with the fun supplies of 16 Crayons, 2 fat pencils, a bright-colored note paper and Pencil cases. Those "backpacks" were like their security blankets. Two even carried beloved stuffed animals in case Billy Bear or Lambie was needed during Nap Time.

Each Nervous, excited, anticipating what they will face when they first cross the threshold of a red brick building. How many times have we been emotionally standing on the edge of a cliff, watching our children walk through the door to their first day of school?

I remember well, Devin going off to preschool at Trinity Lutheran in N. Fort Myers, Florida. I was so devastated to have him be old enough to have someone else be his teacher. I, who had taught him how to read, to write his ABC's, who had helped him figure out that he had 10 fingers and 10 toes and that adding those together was a total of 20.  He knew where Construction trucks worked and what they did. He knew the noises to all farm animals and even the giraffe all because he and I devoured books and tapes like starving baby birds. And their I was watching him walk in, shake the hand of a woman (sweet and wonderful as she was,) that was going to gather a little bit of his heart. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I knew that he would only be gone a few hours 3 days a week but it was enough to make me miss him as if he was gone forever...

 Then, I did it again when he went to Kindergarten and the next year. That 3rd year when Devin went to 3rd grade, I watched him get on the Magic School Bus, (as Kyler called it), and a few hours later I drove Kyler back over to Thomas Crossroads Elementary in Sharpsburg, Georgia and walked my little tow-head blonde baby boy into what I perceived to be the darkest room in the school.

It was different than Devin's Kindergarten (he went to the FSU School [K-12, a progressive school] where he participated in the 1st grade classes and not his true class of Kindergarten).  Devin's classroom was bright happy and friendly. 
I should have known when I walked Kyler into that room that this class might not be for my little guy. It was darker than the rest of the school. It was like the teacher was trying to create a mood but for a 5/6 year old, it was the mood of depression. The bulletin boards weren't bright and happy, just brown. Maybe she wasn't prepared for the first day? I am not sure. It was just the opposite of anything I had ever encountered for a young child's classroom. 
First day after school, he was okay. Second day, quiet. Third day he came home even quieter.Mind you this was an all day program, so I just thought that he was tired from so much activity. The fourth day, then the last day of the week. Same outcome. The weekend came. Monday morning, I explained to him that new experiences were always something you had to get used to. I told him that he had to try going again and it would get better. He and Devin came home on the Magic School bus and Kyler wasn't excited about his very first bus ride. He had been craving that ride for 2 years as he watched Devin get on it every morning and we sang, "He's on the Magic School Bus... beep beep."

I had always had a way of getting the boy's day activities out of them even when they didn't want to talk. I always asked them, since they did nothing, they must have been twiddling their fingers... did the teacher really let them just twiddle their fingers. They would say yes, I would say, really, Mrs. Jones just let you sit there and twiddle your fingers all day long?  Then, all of a sudden the day's fun and challenges would come out. This was me and the boy's bit.

On this day though, Kyler wouldn't give into the 'twiddle your finger" bit. He started crying and then I noticed scratch marks down the side of his face. Deep, dried blood, scratch marks. He refused to go back to school. What?!  A week and a day of school and my beautiful baby boy already hated school?  My heart broke. I had to get to the bottom of the problem. Into the classroom I went to talk to his Kindergarten teacher. She said nothing was going on and went on to tell me that the scratches must have happened after school was over. Kyler, wouldn't say a word of how he got scratched. A week went by, he still cried every day before I would walk him into the classroom. I went to talk to the principal. He made an appointment with the teacher and I. The teacher still wasn't any help. Then a meeting with Kyler, I and the teacher produced more frustration because shy Kyler wouldn't talk. Finally, with the Prinicpal, Kyler and I we got him to talk. 
A girl that napped next to him every afternoon would grab his face and start talking really mean to him. She would tell him that if he told someone she would beat him up. My sweet, kind, loyal little boy was being bullied by a girl and he knew that I had always taught him he couldn't beat up or hurt a girl. That was the worst first week of Kindergarten I had ever heard of. 
Lucky for Kyler, we moved to Utah in January and he finished kindergarten with the sweetest teacher ever Mrs. Meserve. 

As years repeated, we watched Devin ride his bike off to 6th grade. Then Kyler, Mckenna and I headed off to Santa Clara Elementary where we dropped Kyler off for 3rd grade. Later in the afternoon, I took my sweet little angel girl back to the school so she could do the first day of crossing over the threshold to a sweet teacher named Mrs. Davis. She was amazing!!! 

I didn't miss Mckenna as much as the other two because I worked at the school and I was able to wave at her during recess time where I filled in as a recess- monitor. Those were happy days for all of us. Devin, was becoming independent, playing baseball and soccer. Kyler was in the thick of a great group of kids who played baseball, soccer and flag football together. Mckenna met her best friends in Kindergarten; one a curly-haired little girl whom we met at the city park and the other a dark-haired princess whom she became sisters with at an eternally long play-date. With these two girls came their mothers whom I adored. 

Now, I have only one of those sweet babies in the public school system. She is going to be taking SAT's, ACT's and Math way beyond her mother and father's help. Mckenna is smart, articulate, talented and way to old for her young "almost" 17 years. The students that go to school and goof off are maddening to her. She thrives in JROTC because of it's higher standard of thinking. She loves the structure, she loves the other cadets and with it comes responsibility; where I anticipate she is going to have to learn to "tolerate" other peoples immature foibles.This will strengthen her great leadership skills.

My little baby boy is off to college. Rooming with his best buddy, cousin Tyler. I am thrilled to get calls from Kyler where he tells me about his experiences of school, work and fun. He has moved 3 times in his one Apartment building in a matter of weeks but only because he is easy going and Sheila, his landlord, knew he could handle the crazy moving. Great things are ahead for Kyler and I can't wait to see them!

My first- Devin, has the biggest changes of all. Married to sweet Aliza, a new job where he is learning and building his Leadership skills where he will eventually manage one of those magic stores that we all love associated with the bold red dot, Target, or in our classy minds Tarjae.  Who knows what is on he and Aliza's new journey, but it will be glorious to watch.

Kindergarten is that first step into a lifelong path of learning about yourself.  But, Kindergarten for me was where I had to learn to watch my beautiful children walk away, backpacks bouncing on their little backs as they happily, anxiously, or dreamily walked into a new world.