Thursday, February 02, 2017

The First Day of School Post Nobody Writes

Today was Rory's first day of kindergarten. I'm not trying to be a pessimist, but I haven't had high hopes for a smooth start since he attended orientation late last year.  During both orientation sessions he clung to me, didn't want to play with other kids, and didn't want to do any of the activities.  We've been trying to talk positively about school over the past few months, but he hasn't been very enthusiastic.  He's been going to daycare one day a week since he was four months old, and since around the time he turned one, drop-offs are painful more often than not.  But he ALWAYS has a good time there and plays with other kids, so I don't know what his problem is.

Even though I know him better than anyone but God, I struggle with knowing the right approach in parenting him.  There's no doubt he has issues with anxiety, but he's also lazy (just calling a spade a spade).  If he had his way, he'd still be in nappies and I'd still be spoon-feeding him!  I still have daily battles with getting him to do tasks I know he can do - eating, putting his shoes on etc. ("I caaaaan't do it!  It's too hard for me," is the common whine).  Due to this I swing between being too tough and unsympathetic to just doing things for him, or not forcing him to do things because I've just had enough.  There have been times where I've really done my block and regretted it afterwards.  Sometimes I feel distant from him, because I just don't know how to help him.  I know too well from personal experience at a young age that kids can be cruel.  I don't want him to have to endure what I did.  I want to help him overcome his fears NOW, so he doesn't have to face the ridicule.  At times I feel like I'm reliving my own childhood through his anxiety.  You'd think I'd be able to relate to how he feels, but sometimes I just can't.

So, today resulted in a meltdown when it came to putting on his school uniform and getting on the bus.  I thought the bus ride would be ok since his best friend was already on the bus (his best friend is going to the Catholic school unfortunately, while Rory is at the public school), but nope.  Duncan had to ride on the bus with him to calm him down.  I drove into town with Flynn and Rory's big bag of stationery and met them both at the classroom.  There were more tears when it was time to leave.

I spent the day sobbing...not because I'm one of those parents who can't let go, but because I felt so drained.  I cancelled swimming lessons for him, since I just can't deal with the way he screams throughout every lesson.  Dealing with school is enough for now.

Thankfully, he got off the bus this afternoon all smiles, and the comment from his teacher in his communication book said he'd cheered up after we left, played with other kids, did everything he was asked to do, and generally had a great day.

I'm grateful for other parents who have shared their own struggles with me.  My Facebook newsfeed has been littered with photos of happy kids in uniforms and comments from parents, such as, "Jimmy has been looking forward to school for months," or "Sally had a great day, no tears, and actually told me to leave."  It's a kick to the guts reading that and I've struggled with jealousy, raging at God about why, after everything I've been through, He has to give me difficult kids on top of that.

I love my kids more than all the hairs on all the bears, but parenting a sensitive, anxious child is just really hard work.  There are people who'll imply that you're too harsh, and others will think you're too soft, and somehow you've got to ignore them all, and figure out what's best for your child when you don't even know what that is.

Somehow we'll get through this together, my boy.


Wendy said...

Yes, somehow with God's strength you will get through. You probably have sensed that I have difficult kids too. Not the same issues, but hard nonetheless. And incredibly draining. Give yourself room to recover. I remember one day walking to kindergarten with our middle son (who is incredibly stubborn). It was just a 1km walk, but he stopped part-way there and refused to go any further. I can't remember why. It took a lot of talking and emotional energy to get him moving again. (I think I may have even rung my husband at work.) I finally got him to the carpark of the kindy and they were looking out for him (I'd had to call the Japanese kindy and tell them we were running late). The teacher came out to meet us and just picked him up and carried him in (kicking and screaming). He wasn't a light kid—I was incredulous, but so thankful. It took several hours to recover from that drama!

bettyl-NZ said...

Wow! Time sure does fly by! Don't worry about him at school. I cried and cried my first day, but they left me anyway and I adjusted. Trust me, you aren't the first (or the last) parent to cry on the first day of school!