Last week T.Puzzle’s teacher approached me for a conference. The thing about conferences is that they usually doesn’t consist of the teacher listing all the ways your kid is truly outstanding. As I entered the school building for the impending conference, I had a feeling she wouldn’t share anything with me that I didn’t on some level, already know. Basically, he speeds through everything, oversimplifies and isn’t interested in expounding on anything, ever. Pretty typical stuff for a kindergartener, but as his classmates are slowing down and answering questions in more detail, he is fine to zip through his schoolwork at a breakneck pace (Full Speed, Jr., anyone?). There’s not much to be done except encourage him to slow down as he does tasks at home and try to prompt more than one-word answers from him (Mad Dog, Jr., anyone?).
The hardest part of this conference day is that all I really wanted to do was call my Mom to talk about it. She was always the perfect combination of empathic listener with a good dose of pragmatism. She had a way of putting things in perspective while taking into consideration my extremely sensitive nature.
I miss that.
I miss her.
Of course she is on the forefront of my mind as Mother’s Day approaches. All I can do is remember a conversation I had with her shortly before she passed. She told me l knew her well enough that if I ever needed her advice when she was gone, I could imagine what she would tell me and I’d be exactly right.
So? What would she tell me? That T.Puzzle is brilliant, charming and handsome. She’d tell me that he’s an extremely active boy who would rather play soccer than sit still, write sentences or answer questions. She would tell me that I’m a great Mom and it’s only kindergarten. She’d tell me to focus on the good stuff the teacher said like how T.Puzzle is respectful to his classmates and his teachers. She’d tell me that when he’s CEO of a Fortune 500 company or president of the United States, that how he behaved in kindergarten won’t matter. It matters only to his future first grade teacher and first grade is months away. A lot can change over a summer and be patient. It will all work out just fine.
One sure-fire way to feel like a rock star is to volunteer in a kindergarten classroom. When I help out in T.Puzzle’s class once a week, I can’t help but feel amazing. After not seeing the kids in over three weeks due to winter break, they were especially delighted to see me again. This is how one girl greeted me:
“I missed you! I love your shirt! I love your hair! I love your shoes! You smell so pretty!”
That was only in the first five minutes. By the time my two-hour block of time was winding down, I had several lunch invitations and many exclamations of how much I was missed and adored.
It got me to thinking. They think I’m awesome and the feeling is mutual. Why is that? I realized it’s only because we see each other for short windows of time. All we see and look for is the good stuff. If we had to spend loads of time together, the bloom of good cheer most certainly would fade.
Take my relationship with T.Puzzle for instance. It has evolved from a Mommy’s Boy situation to a Stay-Away-From-Mom as much as possible kind of relationship. This tends to put me in a defensive frame of mind when I am evaluating his six-year oldness. Needless to say, my patience with him is sometimes used up even before he has a chance to speak.
What if, just for a moment, I imagined if someone who doesn’t see him very often, like you, were spending time with him? What would you see? Would this help me remember his own unique brand of awesomeness?
If you were meeting T.Puzzle for the first time, you would see a fun-loving, inquisitive, opinionated, confident little man with an extremely high adorability quotient.
We all have the ability to stop what we are doing and allow ourselves to be awakened to the present moment. For me, it happens in the most random situations. I was helping Full Speed’s home room Mom decorate his teacher’s door for teacher appreciation week. Then it hit me. Full Speed is almost done with kindergarten. I let this thought settle over me. It made me feel a pit of resistance in my stomach. This year has gone by too fast. He is getting older. Every day he needs me a little bit less. Every day I want to hold on to him tighter. Instead, I have to let him go more freely.
I snapped out if it. I returned to the task at hand. The door was appropriately decorated and it was time to go. Still some sadness over watching my boy grow up clung to me.
Full Speed had not felt well over the weekend. He was tucked into bed early that evening to help combat whatever virus he was fighting. After he was resting, Mad Dog and I heard an indistinguishable yelp from his room. Mad Dog ran to investigate. There was blood and Full Speed was visibly shaken. Mom was called in for back-up. The initial thought was Full Speed’s virus was now becoming more serious causing him to spew blood.
Nope. It was only a loose tooth that needed to come out.
I was so relieved. And then I wasn’t.
The loss of a first tooth means baby teeth are making way for the grown up ones.
I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.
Thankfully the tooth fairy is better adjusted to the growth of children than I am and left Full Speed a generous gift of money.
Too bad she can’t give us back the gift of time while she’s at it.
I was volunteering in Full Speed’s class, which when given a chance to interact with the kids, I thoroughly enjoy. It’s a lot more entertaining than if I get sent off to make copies or cut paper. I love to watch Full Speed in the classroom setting. He’s impatient, antsy, full of answers even to questions that aren’t being asked and rather comical. A lot of the kids like to share with me that Full Speed is ‘silly’ or ‘funny’. I interpret this to mean ‘ the teacher has her hands full keeping him in line’. So when his teacher pulls me aside to discuss a morning incident concerning Full Speed, I am not surprised.
Apparently there was a scuffle of sorts with a fellow classmate in which Full Speed hit the other child with his lunch box. When the teacher asked him point-blank why he did it he said, ‘I don’t know, ma’am’. When pressed further about his intentions he kept politely replying, ‘I don’t know, ma’am’.
The bad news is that Full Speed can be a little hotheaded; the good news is his manners will be impeccable when questioned in a court of law.
Over the past few days T.Puzzle and Full Speed have not been on their best behavior. In fact, whatever you use to describe the opposite of good behavior; that’s what they are doing.
The weekend was rough.
Then, while I was at T.Puzzle’s karate practice (hooray that Mad Dog had a chance to join us!), Full Speed decided to be a sore loser for the babysitter. He thought crying, tantruming and hitting her were acceptable ways to deal with the fact she beat him at a game.
When she walked in the door with Full Speed behind her, she described to me these unfortunate events. I felt the color creep up my neck and my face burned bright with frustration, anger and whatever else a Mom feels when her child’s behavior mortifies her.
She packed up T.Puzzle to head home so Mad Dog and I could remain for Full Speed’s practice. Upon leaving, T.Puzzle melted down for me and I almost snapped. The babysitter gracefully swooped in and escorted him to safety.
As Full Speed practiced his kicks and punches, I stewed in my thoughts. I was disappointed that my boys were being so poorly behaved. I know that kids aren’t going to be perfect and will have a bad day or two, but this seems to be spiraling and it isn’t fun.