It's American Education Week, so I've had the glorious gift of seeing my eldest two in action in their classrooms. What a treat it is to see a glimpse of their life, the part that I'm not really supposed to be a part of. The part of it that all them, where they can be who they want to be and be independent of me and us. How thankful I am to our wonderful teachers and administration for letting us be there to be a "fly on the wall."
On Monday, I got to see 4B in his first grade reading and homeroom classes. Having been through this with him once before when he was in kindergarten, having had 2 grade school conferences for him under my belt, and having seen him in his preschool classroom many times when I fulfilled co-op hours, I was prepared for how different it is to be his momma. Different from what it is to be 4A's momma.
So, I knew what I was gonna get, what it would feel like, what I would see.
It's always a joy to watch him in school or hear about what he does there. He wants to please his teachers, he wants to do well, he wants to earn those golden tickets and awards from the prize box and "good jobs." He is driven socially to think those things are worth having. He comes by this naturally; it's not something I "did" or taught him. He wants to do well there because he likes the social feeling of "a job well done" or being the "good kid."
With him, I simply plopped his ass on the bus that first day. He showed up, they told him what to do, he did it, he came home. Period. It's been like that from the first day. Two extremely mild instances of needing a little nudge or guidance from home, but he's done this all on is own.
I've talked with you before about what an amazing difference there is between the treatment you receive as the parent of a good kid versus the parent of the "difficult" kid. Most notably, people treat you differently. They're nicer to you or more respectful of you. They praise your child and your parenting. They enjoy your child. They want to do right by your child. When you have the "difficult" kid, people intentionally offer you unsolicited advice on how to stop the difficulty. I know that they mean well, but in that assumption that I need advice, there's the collateral assumption that her person is something I did or didn't do. And, here's the real deal, friends, if a team of reknowned PhDs and MDs can't figure her shit out, no amount of your well-intentioned advice is gonna solve it either.
And, I've told you before that I find this absurd. I no more caused 4A's difficulty than I caused 4B's goodness. In fact, I have done MORE to support and help and encourage and teach and mold 4A than I ever have for 4B (and that's something that I worked for years in therapy to be okay with). There's nothing organic or exciting about 4A's schooling. Everything 4A does is worked on, analyzed, or supported by me. I field the complaints and concerns from school, relay them to the docs, listen to the docs, ship that info back to school, support between school and home, and repeat that process when the next bump hits. I tell school what she needs and who she is. I communicate CONSTANTLY with them about tweaking things or making better supports or ignoring certain behaviors. I know every single thing that goes on in 4A's school life before I ever step foot into her conference. There are no surprises (except the ones 4A generously bestows upon her team and I every few days). There is nothing spontaneous about it.
I just put 4B's ass on the bus. That's it. He lets them know who he is and what he needs. They get to know him without me. He does what he does there because of his connection to them (and, somewhat, here). It is unmitigated and un-orchestrated by me.
It's very weird.
But, it's weirdly amazing and organic and surprisingly wonderful. Even though I know what I'm gonna see when I go in to see him this week each year, I'm still blown away by him. By his earnestness. By his ability to follow directions. By his organic desire to please. By his willingness to take direction. By his kindness. By his ability to sit still and listen and absorb and do.
This kid sat on the rug for a 7 minute lesson on writing a story. The teacher told the children one time what to do. ONE TIME. This kid got up and followed her instructions without a moment's hesitation. Not only did he do that, but he sat his ass at his table, quietly, without talking to ANYONE, and did his work until he was finished. And, he did it in the way that she asked. On the first try. Simply because she told him to do it.
And, damn my crazy ass, I cried. I bawled like a baby when I got out to my car.
Then, I saw a friend later that day who had been in the same classroom to see her own daughter. Out of the blue, she mentioned what an amazing kid my 4B is, how he listens, how he follows directions, and what a good student he is. Taken aback, I assured her that that is just the kid he is, and I thanked her for noticing and sharing it with me. I walked her to the door, shut the door behind her, and bawled my eyes out again.
I thank God for this sweet 4B of mine every day. While I know I (at times) short-shift him on the support and attention and love and encouragement that he needs, he has healed a hole in my heart that I didn't think could ever close. He has shown me that kids, one of mine, no less, can and will do stuff just because they want to. Just because they want to make someone happy.
And made me happy (and proud!) he has. I love him so very much for that. Thank you, my sweet boy. And, I love you for who you've decided to be, and I'm proud of you for all of the earnest, kind, and thoughtful work and listening that you do, even though it comes easy to you. I notice. I appreciate. I'm proud. I love you.