Overreacting: Is it Inevitable or is it Just Me?
I went to "Get to Know Your School Night" last evening and it was quite a surreal experience. First of all, it hit me on the drive there that I was going to an open house for my four-year-old . . . that both he and I are old enough for this . . . that I am once again faced with the idea that I am becoming my parents. I mean, I remember my parents going to my open houses and teacher conferences; When did I grow old enough to do this and why is it always a surprise when I have one of these events? Why am I always weirded out by the idea that I'm doing parent things, afterall it's been over four years now - I should be getting used to it.
So that was Episode One: The Drive. Then came Episode Two: Back to School.
Now my husband and I rotate who picks up my son from school depending upon who is working and who is not, so I've been inside his school several times over the last month, but when I pick him up I have to wait outside the main office and they bring all the kids down at once to be picked up. But last night everything was open and I got to walk through the halls of public education, up the cement stairs and into my child's classroom where he has spent the last four weeks. Walking through the corridors I was overcome with a great sense of nostalgia - the sound of my shoes on the tiled floor; the cold, metal railing along the stairs; the butterflies in my stomach resurrected from my own first day of school. Once I entered into my son's classroom it was time to switch back into Mommy Mode.
Episode Three: The Conversation.
So after walking around and checking out the art projects, housekeeping area, center activities, etc. - I found out my son wished upon a star for a Diego t-shirt and turned each page of his All About Me book with great anticipation - I approached his teacher. I was nervous about talking to her, but I don't know why. She is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met, but I'm apprehensive and finally muster up the courage to ask how my son is doing about 10 minutes after I originally had the notion to talk to her.
"He's doing great!" Phew. That was easy. Exactly what I came here for. Of course he's doing great. Why wouldn't he be doing great? . . . .
"My only concern is his independent play."
Hold on. Concern? She's concerned? So I guess now I should be concerned. I thought he was doing great? I put my thoughts on hold and tuned back in to hear that my little guy has a bit of a socialization issue. He apparently doesn't do much. He doesn't know what to do with himself unless he's given direction and once he's given said direction if there's another child doing the same activity or in the same vicinity - he just stands there and stares at them. Same with recess. He stands to the side with his teacher while he watches everyone else run around and have fun. I got this image of him as a lost puppy.
I heard words like, "He seems to put up, like, this wall," and "Does he play on his own at home?" and "Do you have to tell him what to do all the time or is he self directed at all?" I mean, I understand all that she's saying - my son is shy, like his mother, and I was really hoping he wouldn't be. Afterall, I didn't enjoy being shy as a child and I still have my episodes, like last night when I had to talk to his teacher. But a lot of what she was saying is not like the little boy I know at home or the energetic little guy who plays with his friends or cousins outside of school and I was taken aback.
The one bright spot of the interaction came when his teacher informed me that she and the other preschool teachers and aides believe that my son will either come around and become a social butterfly before the winter break or he's just one of those quiet kids who will wind up getting a scholarship to an engineering school at the age of 15. (This comment was preceded by talk of his doing well in centers and any kind of directed activity, his fantastic imagination and impressive verbal skills. So it wasn't all bad.)
Which leads me to Episode Four: The Breakdown.
My husband was at work last night, so when I got home and released my in-laws from babysitting duty I had no one to talk to. I put my boys to bed and then I had a bit of a breakdown. I'll be the first to admit that it was an overreaction on my part, but it happened nonetheless. I just had these visions of my little boy being lost and alone, unable to connect with other kids - mostly I was upset because I had hoped that he would not inherit my shyness and somehow I felt responsible via genetics and my inability to prepare him to be on his own.
Thankfully, Cheryl called me last night. She was wonderful. She listened and she offered comfort at just the right times. She didn't call me crazy or overly emotional (words I expected to hear from my husband if I told him about about it), she was a friend and a fellow mother. She understood and she validated my crazy feelings, while telling me to just give him a chance to adjust to his new situation. :)
I can see just how ridiculous I was last night, but there's still a piece of me that's worried. I say I'm a laidback parent. I have everyone convinced, including myself until last night, that I am not one of those parents who is completely caught up in my children's lives; that I don't associate their successes and failures with my own; that I acknowledge they are individuals and that they must struggle in order to grow . . . Yeah, I talk a really good game.
But when it comes down to it I do see my my son's failures as my own; his struggles my struggles; I want his road to be a smooth one even though my rational mind tells me that a few bumps along the way build character . . . I guess I want his existence to be perfect and that's a problem for both of us.
We've both got some growing pains up ahead to get through and I wonder who the next few months will be toughest for - my son, myself or my husband :)
P.S. Upon posting this, my Daily Dose of Emerson quote box offered up this piece of wisdom: "Our strength grows out of our weaknesses."
Oh, Great Universe, how you amaze me . . . Sleep well, everyone. Sweet Dreams.