The kids and their father were in the middle of their nightly pillow fight routine and the boy took a hit to the nose which led to a bruise and some blood. Okay, quite a bit of blood.
This wouldn’t be so terrible (he didn’t even want to stop the pillow fight!) except a few days ago, he somehow bruised the bone under his eye, making it look like he was sporting a shiner.
Even those two things combined wouldn’t be such a terrible thing… just some terrible luck. However, the next day we were going for the boy’s assessment at kindergarten; you know, where they put a few kids in a class and see how they interact, etc.
I was sending my boy to his first day of kindergarten with a black eye and a bloody nose. Great.
At about 10 pm that night, the boy called to me.
“Mommy, I’m worried.”
“What are you worried about?”
“I’m worried about going to big school tomorrow.”
“Well, what if someone hits me?”
I’m just going to interject here to say that I think my son now understands that it’s acceptable to cry as a result of physical pain, so he always hands out that excuse when something else is bothering him.
“No one is going to hit you. Sweetheart, it’s not daycare – it’s kindergarten. There’s the teacher and all the kids are doing something specific. Like going to gym class, or going to the library. There’s a lunch hour and recess. There’s learning all kinds of new things.”
“But if someone hits me, I’m going to tell the teacher. And if he doesn’t believe me, I’m going to tell you.”
“Okay. Kiddo, you can tell me anything – you know that, right?”
We talked some more, taking the opportunity to clear up any worries. Then he looked at the clock and said, “Do I have to be up soon?”
“In about 8 1/2 hours,” I said.
He hurriedly got comfortable, pulled up the covers and waved me out of his room.
“I have to get some sleep so I’ll have energy.”
I went to bed and thought through all the possible scenarios. Things he might possibly do, things he might say, what the teacher might think of that eye and nose.
I tossed and turned, wondering how he’d fare. I was fully aware that I was far more anxious than he, who was now sound asleep, cozy in his bed in the next room.
I rehearsed a speech for the walk to school over and over, sure that I’d covered all the bases. But the next morning, while we actually walking, I just couldn’t say the words. I looked at him. My heart filled with love and I said, “Just be yourself today. You’re a great kid.”
“My ankle hurts.”
Remember, it’s okay to cry for physical pain.
We got to school and we met up with one of his daycare friends, which made for a great distraction. Eventually, the vice principal called us all together and led us to our children’s classroom’s.
The boy knew I couldn’t go in with him. We’d already gone over it and in theory, he was fine with it. But this was no theory. I saw panic setting in and I pointed to a bench 20 feet away.
“I’ll be right there, waiting.”
“Mommy. Mommy, I want you to wait right at the door.”
He wanted to cry. He so wanted to cry. But my son, he’s such a people pleaser that he didn’t want to disappoint me. It broke my heart.
I looked at the door. No window. What can it hurt?I thought to myself.
“Sure. I’ll wait right here.”
He went into the classroom and I stood there in the hall for a few moments. Another parent walked by, stuck his head in the door and said to me, “He’s smiling. Great big grin. He’s good.”
We walked together and sat down in the lobby area, 20 feet from the door where all the other parents were gathered. I knew a few of them, having spent the night together a few months back.
The hour passed quickly, and soon the door flew open and he came running out, tears streaming down his face.
“What happened?” I asked.
“You were supposed to be right there, right outside the door.”
“Sweetheart, it was over an hour. I wanted to sit down. I was right here – I could see the door the whole time.”
I went over to talk to the teacher, who assured me everything had gone just fine and that he only cried in the last minute, when he exited the classroom.
I saw the other kids leaving with drawings, and I asked the teacher if I could have his.
“Oh, no. I’m keeping that.”
A cold shiver went down my spine. What had he drawn? Did this teacher think he was some sort of sociopath? Or even worse, did he draw something that led the teacher to draw conclusions about his eyes and nose? IT WAS MY WORST FEAR COME TRUE.
In the end (read: after some harassment – hey, let ‘em know I bring the crazy early), the teacher showed me the drawings. They were more assessment-type pictures – draw a face, reproduce line drawings, complete a simple maze and write your name – and after reassuring myself that the boy had drawn a smiley face, I was happy to drop the matter.
The boy and I left the school and caught the bus to daycare. He really enjoyed the bus ride; he never gets to ride the city bus so it was a real adventure. He wouldn’t pull the cord to ring the bell, but he liked the way the doors opened.
As we walked the final few blocks to daycare, I took his hand.
“So?” I asked. “How was it?”
“It was good.”
“Did you like the kids?”
“Did you like the teacher?”
“What did you do?”
“We drew the pictures. We played. Stuff like that.”
It was like pulling teeth.
“Well, it’s kind of hard for me to get an idea of what went on in there, but it sounds like it went well. Do you think it went well?”
“I’m still worried.”
“Worried about what?”
He was silent for a few minutes. When we got to the entrance of the daycare, he looked up at me and said, “I’m not sure. I’ll think about it and let you know.”
“But I’m still worried.”