Allow me to take a break from the maddening aspects of this entire Dog Debacle (case in point: Guess who walked right into the live trap outside my window this morning, helped himself to the grilled chicken I’d baited it with, and then RAN OUT as it snapped shut!) to note that having completely screwed up with what was supposed to be our newest family member during the first week of school has proven unexpectedly difficult for me.
I mean, it’s difficult, anyway. But here I am—having completely failed to care for what is supposed to be a fairly low-maintenance creature—also trying to appropriately tend to my children as they navigate new territory. It is nerve-wracking. For ME. Not for THEM. They’re FINE. More than fine; both of them are delighted to be back in school (although why they would choose that over scrubbing the bathroom with a toothbrush and peeling grapes for me, as per our usual summer schedule, I cannot imagine) and by all accounts are doing fine.
But I am supposed to be letting go and I’m having trouble unclenching my fingers.
First we have Chickadee, who is now a Big Bad Middle Schooler. Have I mentioned the steroids? I think I may have mentioned the steroids just a few times, AHEM. I’m pretty sure that Chickie is loving life and loving school, but then again, she is currently on prednisone so everything is very LOUD and EXCITED except when it all turns TRAGIC, all of which tends to rapidly cycle several times a day. YARGH. So other than the fact that she occasionally acts like a cokehead, school seems okay. She loves her teachers and has gotten over the fear of not knowing anyone—both through seeing her old elementary friends and making new ones—and is generally very pleased with everything at the new school.
She recently started moaning about not wanting to play piano anymore, and I find myself stumped. On the one hand, I know that she’s really loved it in the past and I know her teacher believes she has real promise. And I know that the reason she’s griping is because she’s finally being challenged, and in Chickadee-world there is fun and easy and then there is hard and stupid. On the other hand, I don’t want to be that parent who FORCES her kid to stick with an activity she well and truly no longer enjoys.
At this point she has a commitment to continue piano through an event this Fall which I’ve told her she needs to honor, at the very least. And if after that she still wants to stop, she needs to discuss it with her teacher. I’m hoping that this gives us enough time for her to get over her current mental block. But we’ll see. (I love her teacher. He takes no prisoners, man. He told her that the next time they cut a CD—his students make CDs every year—he’s going to make a track of her whining, “I can’t do it, it’s too hard!” HAHAHAHA.)
And then there is Monkey. Sweet little Monkey. Sweet, controlling, oftentimes clueless Monkey. His teachers have been wonderful about keeping me updated via email. It’s clear that they are genuinely fond of him, but that he still presents some challenges in a classroom setting. “He loves to share, whether it’s his turn or not,” said one of the first emails. SHOCKING, I tell you. I had NO IDEA. Later I got, “Monkey is truly a joy! Of course, he sometimes wants to ‘be the teacher,’ but we corrected him and moved on.” I AM ASTONISHED that my child felt the need to tell everyone else what to do. Mmmph.
Monkey has a ways to go, is my point. It’s good that he’s charming, because as I told his team before school started, “Monkey is very intelligent, and he’s also AWARE of this fact. This leads him to believe he needs to correct everyone else to save them from their unfortunate stupidity. He hasn’t quite figured out yet why people are not grateful for this particular brand of helpfulness.” Thankfully the new school seems to really get it, really get HIM, and he’s settling in well.
The issue I’m struggling with for him, right now, is the morning walk to school. I’m perfectly happy to walk with him every day. At the same time, there are kids younger than he is walking or biking alone, and I need to help him build up some independence if I don’t want to have to go to college with him. So the first day, I walked him to his classroom. The second day, I walked right up to the school driveway and then let him go inside alone. He turned back to make sure I was watching about three times. The third day, I cross the corner with him (and the crossing guard), then let him go on alone. He checked back only once, and I thought we were doing really well.
Today I stayed on the near corner and let him be ushered over by the crossing guard, first one street, then the other, and he then proceeded to wave at me for the next five minutes while making the rest of the trek up to the door. I waved back, and tried to smile, as I reminded myself that this is the good kind of letting go, the kind where we’re both a little nervous, and it feels a little uncomfortable, and then we move on to the next level, which is apparently him coming home and answering my “So what did you do at school today?” query with a waving of his hands, a devilish grin, and a response of “Oh, we did stuff! And things! And then some more stuff!”
And—lord willing—I’ll never have to set out a cage filled with hotdogs and bits of chicken to get him there.