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My Biggest Back-to-School Worry

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Unlike many kindergarten moms, I don’t worry that Alex will cry or miss me or sit in a corner by himself. We've been talking up kindergarten and getting excited about it for months and months. He was ready. He was pumped. He's extremely social and confident when it comes to making new friends (perhaps too confident—he comes on strong) so we’re good there. And he’s been going to preschool and before that part-time daycare, so he knows the separation drill. I am also not worried that he will somehow be behind other kids because of his lack of reading and writing skills I wrote about on Wednesday. First, he can write his name and his letters, they’re just not perfect. And he learns fast. I have no doubt he’ll excel academically. Eventually. 

On his first day, he told me he was nervous-excited for school. He stood right by my side silently as we waited for the teacher’s aid to collect the kids (because his enrichment program doesn’t start until next week I had to drop him off the first three days, which has been great). He gave me a big hug and followed the hoard of miniature people down the hall. There was the initial heart-tugging goodbye as I watched him walk away from me. He turned around a few times and waved and just picturing his little body carrying his big back pack could make me choke up now. I sighed and left, feeling nervous-excited for my little boy. But I also felt stressed. Here’s why:

My real worry—Nick’s too—is that the teacher is going to find him to be a pain in the ass. That he will clown around and not listen and take away from the other kids’ learning. I’m worried about his difficulty with paying attention…and sitting still… and his need to be silly. Alex is a bit of a clown. He is a spirited kid. He is a physical kid. He is not always a great listener. I often have to ask him to do something (get dressed, brush his teeth, close the door, sit down, sit down, sit down) several times before it sinks in. You might say, Oh, he’s just a kid being a kid or he’s a boy or he’s just _____ (fill in the excuse). But I have been around plenty of kids who listen to their parents the first time they say something. I’ve also been around Alex when he decides to listen and it’s amazing. I know he’s got it in him. The other thing playing into my fears: Alex is young—he just turned five on Sunday—and I’m a little concerned that his age is working against him in the silly behavior department (another excuse, perhaps?). I wrote a post about redshirting a while back and while it’s not something I seriously entertained, I do imagine that delaying kindergarten a year would have meant better listening/behavior, right?

We don’t get to meet the teacher for a few weeks and until then I can only go by what Alex tells me which, so far, is good. I’m trying to secretly pump him for information without putting too much emphasis on my worries. Apparently two kids had to be moved because they were talking too much but neither was Alex. Phew! When I asked him—casually—if he was being a good listener he said, “Of course, mom.” To which I replied, “ Of course you are. You are a good listener.” (I’m going with the positive-reinforcement/benefit-of-the-doubt/fake-it-till-you-make-it approach for now). Anyway, just wanted to get that off my chest. I feel like so many moms are (understandably) worried about their kids fitting in and getting adjusted and I’m the mom who’s worried about the teacher and other kids, praying with fingers and toes crossed that Alex doesn’t act like the wild thing he is capable of being. Only time (or a call from the principal’s office) will tell. Hope everyone’s back to school week went well. Any worries you have that you want to share?