Friday, September 17, 2010

Really? A phone call on the VERY first day of kindergarten? Cut a stressed-out Mommy a little slack, won't you?

I'm officially starting to believe all those other Moms who've been saying things like, "Before you know it, your boys will be graduating high school and moving on with their lives." You know what I'm talking about, right? The ones that always seem to come right when you're trapped in line at the grocery store with two hungry, exhausted, whiny little boys, and you have to buy an 8 pack of Crayola brand washable markers, because that's the one school supply item you forgot to buy for the first day, and you haven't slept in 3 nights, and you know that you're going to be up most of the night doing that slide show for work that you haven't even been able to start during your actual work day, and you haven't made sustained eye contact with your husband or had a meaningful adult conversation in weeks, and you're thinking to yourself, "If either one of my boys says 'Moooooommmmmyyyyyyy' to me one more time right now, I am going to spontaneously combust right here in this grocery line!!!" ??? That's typically when some older woman with kind eyes and a sweet little smile turns around and says, "You should cherish these moments, dear, because they go by so fast." You look up at this well-meaning woman, and you want to rip her eyes out, because, at that very moment, the idea of your boys graduating and moving out, so you can finally get a little alone-time, sounds just peachy, thank you very much. You know those comments???

Well, they're starting to make a lot more sense.


Because my little Foster just went to his first day of kindergarten. Sigh.

The afternoon of his first day, I met Fos and Spence at the bus stop and was greeted with HUGE smiles and hugs and lots of stories about how much fun they had at school. And, dropping my little guy off that morning had really been a breeze. No tears this time around (mine, Daddy's, or Foster's). Fos was happy and excited. I felt genuinely happy and excited for him. Hubby and I dropped him off together and marveled at how much easier it was this time, versus last year, when Spence started kindergarten. In fact, I had planned on writing a joy-filled, optimistic little blog entry called "It's so much easier the second time around."

Then, the phone rang.
At 7:30pm.
It was Foster's new kindergarten teacher.
Calling us at home.
On his very. first. day.

Teacher: "Hi. I'd like to talk with you a little bit about some concerns I have about Foster."

Gulp. Heart starts pounding. Head starts spinning. On the FIRST DAY??? Seriously?!!!

Teacher: "I'm concerned that he may not be aware of where he is in time and space."

What the ???

Teacher: "When I took all the kids to lunch, I taught them what to do with their lunch boxes, and I really went through it with them. But, Foster somehow put his lunch box in the wrong bin. So, I pointed him down the hall to look in the other class bins, but he didn't come right back. I found him playing in the atrium. Then, when we went out to recess for the first time, I told all the kids to line up when the bell rang. Well, I counted heads, and one was missing. It was Foster. He had lined up with a different class. So, I'm just wondering if this is the norm for him, and I'm concerned."

I couldn't breathe for a second. It seemed like such a serious and significant statement: "I'm concerned that he may not be aware of where he is in time and space." It just kind of echoed around in my brain. Really? To me, it doesn't seem that strange that a 5-year old, especially a very adventurous and excited 5-year old like Fos., on his first day of school, would put his lunch box in the wrong bin and then take full advantage of being set free in the hallway to explore his new environment. It's not OK, and I fully understand that he has to follow the directions of his teacher and be safe. But, is it really that weird? It just doesn't strike me as being that odd that a kid might line up with the wrong class on day one of his very first recess, either.

But, I guess Fos was the only one who did these things.
Of course.

My little guy. The one who pushes buttons and tests the boundaries of every authority figure in his life. The one who is fascinated with everything and easily distracted by the sights, sounds, and smells of life going on around him. The one who has always headed fearlessly out to explore his world, with no need to hold hands or cling to parental legs. The one with the sparkling blue eyes and amazing smile, who gives the most heartfelt hugs in the world, and who ends every day by saying, "Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. I love you more than you love me. Yes, possible!" My funny, creative, stubborn, affectionate, and totally unique little guy.

I'm glad his teacher wants to keep the lines of communication open. Really, I am. When I met him, I instantly thought that he and Foster would connect really well together. He seems to have a great sense of fun and passion for teaching. He seems genuinely interested in getting to know "his" kids. Hubby and I will, of course, back him up when he feels that more boundaries or discipline are required. And, I am a firm believer that schools and parents have to work as a respectful team to help kids succeed.

But, did he have to call on the very first day? Couldn't he have waited to see how the first couple of days played out, just to get a really good feel for how Fos is adjusting to kindergarten life, before questioning his mental capabilities and awareness? Did he not know how such a phone call might affect loving parents?

Seriously. I lay awake all night after that call, tossing and turning, (as hubby snored away) wondering if there could be something seriously wrong with Fos. Wondering if I'm going to get the call that the school psychologist has been called in to evaluate his "awareness of where he is in time and space." (That phrase is forever burned into my brain, in case you couldn't tell.) Wondering if he's going to be OK in school and successful in life. Wondering if his teachers are going to like him and understand him and motivate him, or if they're going to label him as "that bad kid who doesn't follow directions." Thinking about the middle school students I counsel every day. The ones who battle with authority or live to be the class clown or view the world differently than most. The ones who don't quite fit in. Thinking about how their parents have had to hear concerns like the one I just heard from Foster's teacher. Feeling such a renewed rush of empathy for them. Knowing that they spend many sleepless nights worrying about the children they love so much and hoping things will turn out OK.

And, so, here I am, after waking up at 2:00am. Again. Worrying about how Fos will do tomorrow, on his second day of kindergarten. Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Hoping he has fun. Hoping he follows the rules. Hoping he makes new friends. Hoping this teacher will like and appreciate my wonderful, challenging little boy and nurture his love of learning.

Ironically, Fos woke up just a few minutes ago, crawled into my lap, and buried his little head into my shoulder.

"What's wrong, sweetie?"

"I had a bad dream."

Maybe I'm not the only one who's worried about tomorrow...


  1. I admire the teacher's enthusiasm and desire to nip things in the bud, but I agree with you: Not a necessary call to make on the first day of school! Really! Fos is fine. He just need a chance to get acclimated to his new environment. And so do most adults I know.

  2. "awareness of where he is in time and space" seems a little overdramatic to me. Especially on the first day! Maybe the teacher was trying to cover his own butt for basically losing Foster on the first day?!

    I will say it's great that he's communicating with you. It's been a month of kindergarten and my daughter's teacher still hasn't acknowledged my presence as anything more than, "Do you see your grown-up?" at the door before she releases my daughter!

  3. Hi ladies. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I do think the teacher seems great and Fos really likes him. Also, with the exception of getting distracted by frogs out at recess and being late back to class, he seems to be figuring things out. Whew! This parenthood stuff is intense, eh?