Which brings us to my dilemma… Somehow, I think something I do or say will be burnt onto my children’s brains for all eternity, just as Space Invaders and my ‘time outs’ have been burnt onto mine. Somehow, I feel like I need to handle every moment of their childhood just right, give them all the right tools and insight for school, for friends, for self esteem… all the while, not ending up as the mean, overpowering, overprotective mom memory. I guess it’s a sort of paranoia… that makes me relentlessly aware that I might somehow screw up my kids. Why am I so worried, after all, I’m not THAT screwed up right???
Lathan and Riley have been in ‘Child Enrichment’ classes (ie: DAYCARE) for some time now… so the gut wrenching overprotective mother panic of dropping off my poor sweet unsocialized children has long since worn off. But all that came crashing back when I realized our summer was coming to an end and I was going to turn in to a PTA mom in just a few short weeks, as Lathan started kindergarten.
Lathan has always been shy. Well, maybe shy isn’t the right word…. Reserved. Lathan has always been reserved. I used to worry so much that he would never make friends at school because he was never the one to initiate interaction with other kids. He was always resigned to be whatever anyone told him to be. As a baby, other babies would take toys away from him and he wouldn’t cry, he would just put on an “oh well” face and move on to something else. I think that’s why in preK he made friends so easily. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone so sweet, and so willing, and so… non-objecting?
I tried to force my gregarious nature on Lathan when teacher after teacher would say, “Lathan’s so quiet.” As if that was some sort of ailment, that he was well behaved, and quiet.
I would tell him, “Lathan, to make new friends all you have to do is tell them your name and ask what theirs is.”
He would just stare at me blankly, like the information wasn’t even remotely necessary. And, as it turns out, it wasn’t. Somehow, over the past two years Lathan had become the popular kid. We would leave and children from other classes would shout, “BYE LATHAN!” Kids from his class would stumble over each other in order to give him hugs goodbye. And the girls practically fought over him…. Lathan was an oak, (pardon the Tombstone expression) shrugging them off by simply saying, “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
My confidence in him has been continually building, just as it did when we went to ‘Meet the Teacher’ at his new school. Even though he would be with all new kids in an all new school, he seemed absolutely overjoyed to reach this milestone. He said hi to the teacher, checked out his cubby and his desk… as I filled out a FULL page of non-essential information to give to his teacher with lots of embarrassing babbling about how ‘Lathan has a sweet heart’ and is ‘very artistic’, ‘has two loose teeth’ and ‘is really coming out of his shy shell.’ I might as well of said, ‘also likes long walks on the beach.’ Not to mention leaving my cell phone #, email address, and emergency contact info.
Cut to everyone at work heckling me about being the ‘baller’ on the first day of school… to which I completely agreed, in my self-deprecating way. Yep, that’s me… Sara, the ‘ballistic crier’ mom. I just knew I would cry buckets. But surprisingly, I only broke once on the first day. And it was before we even left the house.
Lathan woke up to the nutritional thought provoking breakfast of choclate donuts and blue ‘Frost’ Gatorade (his favorites.) I snapped a couple of photos of him and his brother on the front step and when we were coming back inside Lathan smiled at his daddy and then sheepishly looked back at me.
“Mommy, what do I say to make friends again?” he whispered.
RIGHT THERE. That’s when I cried. I bit back the tears to reply, “Just tell them your name and then ask what their’s is.”
Then I turned to Peter tears flowing freely and I mouthed, “DID YOU HEAR THAT?!” Smiling that tight lipped, as if trying to hold back the sobs, ‘my boy is the sweetest boy on earth’ smile.
And then my sweetest boy on earth went to his first day of kindergarten… said hi to his teacher, gave mommy and daddy a quick hug, sat down and started coloring his A,B,C’s.