Lina goes to Kindergarten: Sneak-a-Peek

You know what made today’s kindergarten sneak-a-peek event especially jarring? Remembering going with Corin yesterday. Seriously. I cannot account for the time.

Lina was by turns overwhelmed and excited as she got her first real tour of her new school. Her favorite parts were the bus ride, trying out the play kitchens in the classrooms, discovering the stage in the cafeteria and the Scales Mustang cookie (because that girl never met a dessert she didn’t like). She didn’t much want to talk to anyone, though she did engage in a giggly round of under-the-table peek-a-boo with the little girl across from her. She didn’t much want me to take pictures. There was some finger sucking and a meltdown or two when she didn’t want to stick with the tour program, but overall, she did pretty well.

I’m not sure how I’d rank my own performance. Events like this can be tough, mostly because they throw into sharper relief the differences between Lina and her typically developing peers. There are things she can’t or won’t tell me, and I am left to guess. Does she really understand that she is going to this school next year? What does that mean to her? How does she feel about it? Old worries resurface. How will the other kids respond to her when she doesn’t behave quite like they expect? Will they be patient with her less-clear speech? Will they make the effort to include her in their play? Will she be left behind as they race along at their carefree pace? How will she respond to the greater academic challenges?

I don’t like admitting those fears. I want you to believe that I always see Lina’s strengths and never waiver in my faith that she will conquer every obstacle and prove wrong every doubt. But that’s not real life. I have my struggles with worry and fear. These changes will never not be scary. I will never not feel the ache of the extra challenges my youngest child faces.

But deep down, in the place where it matters, I remain confident in Lina’s ability to navigate this transition. I believe that God has walked with us every step of our path so far, and that He will go beside my girl as I send her into her elementary school experience. I have a tendency – passed down like a treasured heirloom through long generations of worriers – to get ahead of myself. I want to solve problems ten years out. But that’s not how God works, and it’s not a very effective way to live. Instead, our family is learning to take our path one step at a time. God has never failed to provide just what we need for today.

So today, our girl walked through the halls of a fantastic school, where she will have access to excellent teachers, therapists and resources. She connected with a little girl across the table. She discovered favorite books and toys. She found the stage. She ate every morsel of her cookie. It was a good day.

And kindergarten – check!

Corin’s end-of-school party was today, and in a few hours, he’ll be headed out on his final bus ride as a kindergartner. We weathered all that anxiety last summer, and now he finished the year thriving and confident, a kid in his element with his friends and a teacher he has loved. I’m going to miss kindergarten. Even with the modern change to more academics, it definitely still has that introductory feel. First grade suddenly sounds like real school. Corin is excited about it, but, as usual, I am wishing we could slow things down, just a little.

And so our summer begins, on a cloudy, 67-degree day. We have plenty planned – a week of day camp for Corin in June, swim lessons for both kids, a week of family camp for all of us in July – but there will be some down time, too. I’ve penciled in the building of blanket forts, catching of fireflies, reading of books, watching of movies and roasting of marshmallows over bonfires. I’ll keep you posted.

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The kids played some fun relay games out on the blacktop, but we’ll limit the pictures to this one, since I don’t have permission to share the other kids’ photos. I did meet the much-discussed little girl Corin has identified as his future wife. 

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When Jon asked Corin last night what he would miss most about kindergarten, the answer was immediate: “Miss Davis.”

 

100 days of school

This is apparently quite the thing in schools across the nation, judging by the photos in my news feed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t when I was a kid, which led me to a bit of cynicism about the increasing hoopla over everything. I admit it, though: this was fun. We mostly hodge-podged it with stuff on hand, and Corin was so excited that he was up well before his alarm. The class all dressed as 100-year-olds, including the fantastic Miss Davis, and the plans were to spend the day on all kinds of counting activities.

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Pretty cute old man, right? Of course, that crazy, too-big wig he wanted so badly didn’t even make it to group photos…

And he’s off…

Today was the day. Corin got up to his alarm and followed his schedule, just like we’ve been practicing, only this time, it was for real.

Monday, he went in for his kindergarten evaluation, and last night at 5:30, he got a recorded call from Miss Davis, letting us know she would be his new teacher.

He listened to the message about 10 times and has radiated excitement ever since. For those of you who know what this summer has been like around here, you’ll know this was good news. Corin has been very apprehensive about the approaching school year. I was pretty sure he’d be fine once school actually started, but his anxiety had me a little worried about how he would navigate the change.

It’s so like him that the summer was high drama, but the actual start of kindergarten was smooth as butter. He dressed himself and ate a little less breakfast than usual while repeating, “I’m ready to go to school. I can’t wait!” He let me take pictures without protest. When we arrived at his classroom, he walked in with almost no hesitation, struck up a conversation with his new teacher (whom he had apparently already chatted up during evaluation), went with her to find his seat, and settled right down to the first project of the day: drawing a picture of himself on his first day of kindergarten. I got a couple of big good-bye hugs, and then he went right back to his work.

What were you worried about, mom? Easy-peasy. I was so proud and relieved, I didn’t shed a single tear. (I might have shed a few as I made his lunch last night, but that’s between me and the peanut butter and banana sandwich.)

He came home from his half-day looking a little tired but reporting a good day. He’s home tomorrow, another half day on Friday, and then Monday begins the full schedule – and his first time riding the bus.

And so my firstborn begins his honest-to-goodness school career. So far, so good.

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K minus one month

In just over a month, my oldest will head off to his first day of kindergarten. This proves denial is not working, so I’ve decided to embrace looming reality. For this reason, we are currently making a picture schedule for Corin’s school morning routine. This will hopefully take the currently unachievable goal of being ready to leave the house by 8 a.m. and make it a calm and effortless daily reality. Stop laughing. This needs to work.

My dad called this morning as we were shopping for paper and magnets to make this magic picture schedule. He was subjected to a constant stream of asides: “No, Corin, we’re not buying a 1,000 piece puzzle. Because it’s too many pieces for you. Why don’t you choose a 300 piece one? No, you don’t like any of those? Okay. We’ll go without. Please stop whining that you want a puzzle. No, we’re not buying minion flip-flops. Do you have the money for them? No? Neither do I.” (Can someone tell me why they need to carry minion footwear at the Jo-Ann register?) My dad seemed wildly entertained. I was not.

On the plus side, we’ve been checking out lots of early reader books at the library, and Corin is doing great with them. Teaching an almost-kindergartner to read is reminding me how terrible English is at following its own rules. “The silent e at the end makes the vowel say its name, except, you know, when it doesn’t.”

Lina has also fallen in love with books. When she was very little, I worried her short attention span would mean we’d have a hard time reading books, but I guess persistence has paid off. She will gladly bring you a book to read, and she spends hours every day flipping through pages on her own. She can be rough – I’ve taped more pages back together in the past few months than I ever have with Corin – but I figure it’s a small price to pay for a bookworm.

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(Full disclosure: Corin had already read the book in this video at least once. The first time through was much slower. Also, the dog’s scratching is super annoying. Sorry.)