Off to 2nd grade

It’s that time of year again, which comes remarkably early here in the south. The kiddos are headed back to school, with freshly sharpened pencils, unbroken crayons, shiny new lunch boxes and mildew-free water bottles. Corin is beginning second grade, where he has his own desk for the first time. (He sat at group tables the past two years). He was super excited, and while we definitely saw touches of the old anxiety over the past few weeks, he was much more confident walking into his classroom this year.

Every year, we take time to remind Corin that while we want him to do his best in school, the thing that matters most is his ability to show love and kindness to the people around him. “Look for the lonely kids,” his dad and I say. “Stick up for the kids your other friends think are weird. Be a friend to the kids who get left out. We know you’ll be able to do that, because you have Jesus’ love in your heart.”

A fellow mom in our Down syndrome community posts a quote at the beginning of every school year: “I don’t think the worst thing that could happen to me is having a child with special needs. I think the worst thing would be to raise a child who is cruel to people with special needs.” -Matthew Michelson Butman

Special needs come in endless variety, for those who have disabilities and those who don’t. In the end, we all just want to be seen, accepted and included. We all want to belong. I prayed this morning that Corin would be safe, that his mind would be sharp and he would love learning, that he would make good friends. But most of all, I prayed that he would be kind.

Happy second grade, sweet boy. It never stops feeling like I’m leaving a giant piece of me in that classroom.

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Tomorrow is sister’s turn to start her last year of preschool.

Obligatory first day of school post

We have been busy over the last few weeks trying to soak up the last bit of summer. We spent a week at family camp, enjoyed time with friends from out of town, and yesterday closed things out with a pool day and dinner out. Photos of some of those things are forthcoming, but for now, we mark Corin’s first day of the new school year. (Lina had a brief open house and will have her first day on Monday.)

Temperatures outside are still sweltering, but here in the South, we head back to school in August. The lead-up is a little bittersweet as I mark another milestone in my kids’ lives, but there really is something awesome about the first day of school. It has that shiny freshness of a new beginning, with the pent-up anticipation for all that lies ahead. My son’s nervous excitement does something to my heart as he marches off to conquer this newest world.

Happy first grade, Corin!

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Corin feels it’s very important for everyone to know that the dinosaurs on his backpack glow in the dark.

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Drop-off was a whole new experience compared to last year’s delayed start for kindergartners. Mostly, this year involved a lot more walking.

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Straight to business, with barely time for a smile

 

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.”

 

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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