Thursday, September 6, 2012

School daze

Frances on day 2 of school—up with the birds, dressed, and no less excited than day 1.  And I can’t tell you how relieved I am to write that sentence.

I knew she would be excited about the first day of school—a new building, new friends, uniforms with matching bows (HELLO??!!), and new, shiny pink shoes to get her through the day.  But it was every day after that where my worried mind crept.  Maybe she was too young to start Kindergarten, maybe we were pushing her too hard, maybe she wasn’t ready for a five day week.  And I know, she may still be in the honeymoon stage, enjoying the newness of her daily experiences while they are still just that—new.  But the fact that after an entire eight hours of a new teacher, new classroom, new playmates, she went bounding back the very next day speaks volumes to me about her readiness.

Frances is shy; sometimes painfully shy.  And I know this because I am awkwardly, painfully shy, too.  New situations terrify me and the easiest way of coping with this fear is just to give up; to not want to go back; to return to what is familiar.  But Frances didn’t do any of that this week.  She eagerly returned to the unknown.  She lay her next-day clothes out (completely unprompted) each night, she dressed each morning before coming to breakfast (rather than maintain our summertime routine of jammies until late morning), she prepared her backpack essentials (blanket, “friend,” change of clothes) before bedtime, and her eyes smiled when she talked about the day ahead.

In my experience, shyness really boils down to a fear of rejection.  What if they don’t like me?  Will they judge me for wearing my hot pink crocs out in public?  What if I’m not smart/pretty/cool/skinny/wealthy/funny/connected enough and they find me out?  Why on earth would those seemingly with-it people want to hang out with a mess like me?  I imagine a four-year-old’s inner dialogue is different; but I’m also certain that the underlying fear is the same.  What if they don’t like me?

On the first day of school, Frances faced that fear head-on and never looked back.  George and I gave her a quick hug at the door, she squeezed my hand, and she walked off with the teacher who introduced her to the other adorable little munchkins in her class already playing with the puzzles and dolls.  I’m sure she worried about whether she would fit in; whether those other perfectly dressed children would want to play with her; whether they would like her.  But she never showed it—and at the end of the day, she had 14 new friends and a yearning to return to them.  Yes, Kindergarten will teach her to read, write better, some basic math; but I’m hedging my bet that “conquering your fears” might just be one of the greatest lessons she’ll learn this year.

And George?  Let’s just say, he definitely missed his sister.

And I think she missed him, too.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

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