On Max's third day of school, I picked up a Missing Mommy Kiddo. He was happy to go to school that morning, and said goodbye to Molly and me with a kiss and a smile. When I arrived at noon, however, his teacher said that he had gotten a little sad about twenty minutes before. He perked up for the end-of-day singing and dancing (his second favorite part of school, only behind playing dress-up. That boy can rock a Snow White dress.), but as soon as our eyes met, his lower lip started wavering and I barely caught him in time before he melted into me.
We had a quiet, lovey afternoon and didn't talk much about school. The next morning, he clasped his hands below his chin and said, "Hooray!! It's TUESDAY! That means it's NOT a school day!" And my heart cracked just a little bit. Max's school is perfect for him. It's calm and quiet and inspiring. It's musical and imaginative and artistic. It's friendly and warm and inviting. It is safe. It is happy. He knows his teacher well. His best little buddy is in his class. After his first two days of school, he was a non-stop motor-mouth about every last detail of his classroom, his new friends, and his activities of the days. I know he's happy there....so why doesn't he?
Tuesday night I made a special bag for Max. In a small, drawstring pouch I tucked a family photo, his beloved flyer from the upcoming Disney Princesses on Ice show, a Love Stone, a pipe-cleaner shaped into a heart, and his Sofia the First Amulet.
In the morning, as he ate his waffles and didn't once mention that Wednesday is a school day, I showed him the pouch...but not it's contents. "If you feel sad or lonely at school today, Max, ask Mrs. W if you can sit in a quiet spot somewhere and look through this pouch. The surprises inside will make you smile, and they'll remind you that Molly and I will be there to pick you up soon...before lunch time!"
He cast his eyes down to his plate. He sighed a heavy, sad sigh. He slumped his shoulders. He stuck out his shaky lower lip.
"Oh, baby. I think you're going to be so happy at school today. Don't spend your morning feeling sad about school."
"I'm not feeling sad about school," he started. "It's just that I'm not going to feel sad ever at school today. And I won't feel lonely and I won't miss you. So that means I'm never going to get to see what's in that pouch."
So I handed him the pouch to peek in over breakfast....and sure enough....no tears at school that day!
In fact, when I got to school to pick him up, he was smiling broadly....and holding his Amulet. Apparently, after I had kissed him goodbye that morning, he opened his pouch to show his friends. One of his friends had spied the necklace and had wished to wear it. Her mom told me the story as we greeted our happy kiddos: "Oh, C had so wanted to get that Amulet! She probably wanted to wear it all morning!" Our teacher, Mrs. W spoke up, "Oh! She did wear it!" C smiled shyly and I looked to Max...who was beaming. "I shared!" he exclaimed as he threw his hands in the air dropping the pouch, spilling it's contents, and losing his balance.
Oh, that Maxwell.
Not a tear since. And he's bringing with him a million happy stories to share with me as we walk home each afternoon.
Did you catch that? Yes...we walk to preschool. We live in Mayberry.
And my almost-4 year old is Happy Happy Happy.
Evan is amazing.
I can't even to begin to describe the growth in his confidence in the past year. He's a total school pro now...already. The school bus is a breeze, he's up, dressed, and ready to start his day right at six... (I wouldn't mind if he caught a little extra sleep in the morning, but I've finally come to accept the fact that my children were born with some crazy gene mutation that causes them to need very little sleep. Molly has finally started "sleeping in" until about 4:45am.) ...and Evan, too, is Happy.
On Friday he brought home a sheet titled "A Peek at My Week." In the first section, he was to write "Something that went well this week." Below, "Something I'm still working on." I'm not sure if I ever wrote much about it last year, but Art class was always difficult for him. He struggled with the fine motor requirements, he struggled with the time constraints, he struggled with the sensory aspects of some of the projects, etc. I heard about Art a lot from him, and it was never positive. And there were other issues with the class, too, but mostly, he just felt like he stunk at it...and that, well...stinks.
Imagine my surprise when, on the top line of his Peek sheet, I saw that he had written "ART." I asked him about it...."So tell me what went well in Art class this week, buddy." "All of it," he replied, "We had to draw monsters by listening to Ms. M describe a monster and mine turned out really cool. I mean, like, probably the coolest one at my table! Or even in the whole class! Well, maybe just my table."
And he beamed. And my heart swelled...and I read on..."Something I'm still working on...making new friends." And I asked..."Is there anyone in particular you'd like to become better friends with?" And an immediate response...."Yup. A. She's nice and she's my friend but we never play together yet because she's always off playing with some other kids. But maybe someday!"
That's the spirit, kiddo!
And, as luck would have it...that someday was today. A moved into our neighborhood over the summer. We had met her family briefly, but the kids hadn't played together. As our family hung out on our back patio this afternoon...the little ones busy with play-dough, me washing windows....Evan said, "A's daddy and brother are outside. Maybe she'll come out, too." "Maybe," I said, "Or you could go and ask her dad if she can come out to play."
He thought about it for awhile....like, an hour.
And then..."Daddy? Will you go with me to ask if she can play?"
And so they went. Sam ended up doing most of the talking, but ultimately, A came running out... "EVAN!" she yelled, as they both broke into the wide smiles of long-lost buddies. And they spent the next hour running around the house, tossing the football, digging in the garden, acting silly.....like old friends. And when she hugged him as she was leaving, Evan didn't hug her back...but he didn't pretend to fall asleep, either! Progress!
They're both changing and growing right before my eyes. If I blink, I'll miss it.....so I guess it's just as well that we're no longer sleeping.....