The First Week

It’s been a hard first week of school around here. This year has been the first that one of our kids isn’t totally happy about their classroom situation.

It’s not Gal Smiley – she got every last one of her bestest buds in her class, loves her teacher and her classroom, and is over the moon to be back in a heavily social environment.

It’s not Little Miss Sunshine – although she was nervous about starting French Immersion, she’s discovered it’s actually really fun, and she’s in with all her friends from last year. Plus, she gets to go down the hall to the big kid bathroom and that’s the mark of maturity, right there.

So…that leaves one. It’s the Captain. I worry about him. This year has brought so many changes – too many, it seems. It’s his first time in a portable, and he’s really struggling with the different procedures and rules, and the lack of a space to call his own, even if it is only a hook on a wall. He’s in a split class for the first time ever, and he’s intimidated by the older kids. Grade 4 apparently means he has an array of teachers now – his nominal “teacher” is only around for 1/3 of each day, with six (six!) other teachers filling in the rest of the periods. Worst of all, all of his friends are in the other class, so he’s feeling awfully alone and lonely.

It’s been a hard week.

These, I think, are the really hard times as a parent. When they’re babies, you know it’s all on you to solve their problems. As they grow, when they run into trouble, you can offer solutions, ideas, comfort. You’re their guide to every single last aspect of life.

But now that he’s nine, the Captain is reaching an age where he still needs us, and wants our support, but at the same time, would just DIE if his parents tried to interfere with his school life. My God, can you imagine your MOTHER coming into the school to talk to your TEACHER about your lack of friend situation? DIE. SERIOUSLY.

And it’s not like I have any magic answers, anyway. I can’t just Google “diaper rash” and be rewarded with 10 different suggestions on how to fix the situation. Times like this, when your kid is unhappy at a place where he’ll be spending 8 hours a day, for a myriad of reasons, are complex and delicate. There is no easy answer. I have advice, but who knows if it will really work, and half the time (okay, more than half), he feels like he just can’t take my advice, anyway. It’s to hard, nothing is easy, I don’t understand.

Oh, my dear, but I do. All too well.

It’s been a very hard week. I hope things get better.

11 thoughts on “The First Week

  1. MrsCarlSagan

    Oh dear. That does sound like a tough week – so many changes. 9 is tricky, with the desire for independence and dependence pulling against each other at the same time. Kids can be pretty resilient, and although it may take some time, hopefully the Captain will come to terms with the changes – perhaps not liking them, but accepting them. And going through this now will make other changes that come up easier to handle since he’s already done it. (again, hopefully).

    I’ve always thought that in a split grade, the lower grade benefits academically because they are exposed to the upper grade curriculum somewhat. (?)

  2. Oh, this post really tugged at my heart strings. I feel for you. Grade four is difficult. Mini Me just entered grade 5 and we are dealing with some issues there as well. That many different teachers is a huge switch. Hopefully this week, with the routine more established, he will be happier and more settled.

  3. Poor little guy — and poor mom! I completely empathize — been there and even experience it now that I have a pre-teen and a teenager. I have to hold myself back sometimes, not so much because my kids would be embarrassed but because I know it’s all part of growing up — for them and for me. But I have to admit, with the pre-teen I wait to see how the year is going and if needs be, give the teacher a quick email if he is struggling. The teachers always like to know what is going on because they cannot necessarily tell from their vantage point. Good luck!

  4. That *is* a hard week. I’m so mixed on situations like that. On the one hand, I want to chat with principal, perhaps move classes…but on the other hand isn’t it better that kids have a bit of adversity, new experiences? But back to the other hand – it’s important to have friends and feel comfortable, on the other hand – child may die of embarrassment if you try to help. So. I realize this is probably the least helpful comment ever. Hugs!

  5. Oh reading this took me back to all the first weeks in this house and how heavy my heart felt when the years did not start out well. I have no magic solution for you but I do understand. The ongoing challenge of when to help and when to wait, how much advice is enough or too much…if only they came with a manual. Hope things settle out better for him.

  6. Hugs to you guys and glad that 2 of the 3 are doing great this first week. Transitions are always rough, right? And I can’t even imagine the difficulty of *not* being able to just “swoop in and fix” a problem. I guess that’s a skill I’ll need to learn as T gets bigger.

    Our “first week of new school” challenges here are mostly around sleep – even though we’ve dropped her schedule down to half-day preschool (albeit 4 days a week), she’s still wretchedly tired by the end of the day and isn’t going to sleep very easily. And the vicious cycle repeats itself each day 😦

  7. We find the first week of school is usually tough – this year has been the easiest of all so far. But as I think back on it…

    Let’s see – there was the time when Kid#1 entered JK and would only eat lunch while sitting on the teacher’s lap. That lasted until December. Then at least he agreed to sit next to her instead.

    Then there was the year that one of the kids, I think it was #1, entered SK and suddenly, after two weeks, he was switched from a Mon-Weds class to a Tues-Thurs class which left us scrambling for daycare.

    Then there was the year that Kid#2 entered JK and when we met the French Immersion teacher, she looked at us and said,in her thick French accent, “So, your son, what is zee probleme?”

    Then there was the year that Kid#1 entered grade two and had three different classes and teachers in the first 6 weeks.

    Then there was the year that Kid#2 entered grade two and we found out that, because he was in a grade 2-3 split that he would be learning English at school, even though he isn’t supposed to do that until grade 3 – and we’d just come back from a year in the US when he didn’t learn any French at all and jumped ahead two or three grades in his English reading – which meant he was behind in French (which he was getting less of) and bored to tears in English (which he was starting at a rudimentary level…)

    Get the picture?

    This year, both kids are (hopefully) settled – though in theory classroom and teacher changes can happen for another two weeks…

    The lesson – they are fine. They are resilient and it’s just one year of school. I know it feels like a lot now – believe me I know!! It feels like everything to you and your child. This too shall pass. Not to make light of it or to make molehills out of mountains, but sometimes perspective can be sanity-saving.

    Sending all the best!

  8. Sorrry it’s been tough on him Lynn (also tough on you, of course!). Someone above mentioned the teacher might not realize he’s having a hard time – especially if he’s a polite boy. Once they hit Grade 4 the class sizes go way up and it’s hard for a teacher to get a handle on all the kids right at the beginning (which, of course, is when the children struggle the most). The boisterous kids tend to get noticed and the quiet ones don’t cause trouble so fade a bit into the background.

    I don’t think it would be wrong or interfering to bring it to the teacher’s attention without telling him or her what to do about it – just let them know for their information. Teachers can help so much in very small ways. I remember one of my son’s teachers who used to casually ask the students – in conversation – what they did at recess so she could figure out if they had friends and were having fun on the schoolyard. The way she did it meant she could offer advice without it seeming annoying or heavy-handed like it sometimes does from parents.

    Teachers don’t have that same protective attachment we do and, often, they’ve seen-it-done-it so they can sometimes have simple, helpful solutions to problems which we would never have thought of. These are the teachers who are worth their weight in gold!

  9. Melanie

    Poor Captain 😦 My grade 4 guy can totally sympathize. He’s not in a portable, but he’s in a 4/5 split with a teacher that he’s had problems with in the past, and his best friends are in another class. By the second day of school, he was telling me that he doesn’t want to go anymore. I’m going to see whether he can switch to the other class, but I’m not holding my breath.

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