Cam has been at TK for 6+ weeks now. As already mentioned, the transition has been tough–even if we were just talking about making eight kid lunches each week (5 Cam + 3 Demi)! Side note: mad respect for my parental units for the insane number of lunches they prepared over the years. There were thousands!
Parent Night was about 2 weeks ago and we were welcomed into the classroom (sans kids) in the evening to learn a bit more about how Cam’s class runs and what his day looks like. While we were encouraged about the structure and appropriate lack of structure (lots of play!) for our 4/almost 5-year-old, we heard a couple pieces of feedback that basically ripped my mommy heart right open.
His teacher said that he eats alone and plays alone. And she said that when she has her 2-minute meeting with him each morning, she asks how his heart is… while most children say “happy because I played with my daddy this morning” or similar, Cam says “fine”. And when she asks what that means (happy? sad?) he says “in between”.
While I rationally knew Cam was okay and a happy, normal and smart kid, those things were not comforting because I just wanted evidence of his happiness. I feared that a difficult TK experience and slow integration with his classmates could impact his mindset regarding school forever. I also knew that was extreme, but I’m a mom, so obviously I went there.
You can see Cam practicing his letters in the upper-left of this photo and some of his classmates posing with pipecleaner glasses (I’d like to think Ms. Labshere did this to make Cam not feel alone in his glasses-wearing):
It took me a week to not cry about the whole situation. Then another week to realize that everything is A-OK. Even, perhaps good.
First of all, Cam is by nature an observer, so it makes sense that he wouldn’t dive into new social situations right away. He is also an introvert, so it’s not in his comfort zone to attach himself to new friends quickly. Further, he was taught at his preschool how to govern himself and play independently. He was acting according to what he’d been taught for the last 2 years.
So many lovely people (family and friends) helped me with this bigger, more balanced perspective. I needed perspective as I was battling emotions and trying not to think about Cam while I needed to focus on an intense couple of work months.
All the while, Cam was also starting to find the joy in school that I thought may have been missing.
The week after Parent Night, in our final playtime before bed a few nights in a row, Cam began asked if we could play school. And so we did. Cam was the teacher and he reenacted his days at school in elaborate (and accurate!) detail.
A kid who isn’t happy at school wouldn’t want to relive it before bed. That is for sure.
In this first photo, the kids are wearing the police hats they made after meeting one of his classmate’s parents who is a police officer. It is part of their “Community Helper” unit.
And in this (brutal) photo from that evening at home, Demi and I are wearing our matching hats that Cam taught us how to make:
So, I’ve started fretting a little less and I’ve recognized that he just needed more time than the quick transitioners, the extroverts and the go-with-the-flow-ers (that is a thing, I know because my colleague Jessica has a son of the same age who is chill in all situations and does exactly as he’s asked. I digress…)
Tonight, after books and before falling asleep Cam asked if tomorrow was a school day. When I said “yes”, he said “yay!”
That is serious progress.