Last week, I found myself having totally unrelated, but similar conversations with each of my children’s teachers. Conversations that, less than a year ago, seemed so very far out of reach.
Yes, a year ago, Big was in a state of unease. The pressures of school and perfectionism were weighing on him, and he was having trouble managing his extreme emotions. (He takes after his mama, it seems.) Little, well, he was just plain broken. He went from one sinus/ear infection to another, had trouble adjusting as his good buddy moved away, and went through one of the most upsetting bouts of separation anxiety I could imagine. Pink was having a hard time too. She was adjusting to the new group therapy that had been prescribed to help with her gross motor delay, and was having trouble keeping up with other kids her own age and beyond. Separation was equally upsetting for her, but more age appropriate, at least. Me? I was flailing too, feeling like I was failing motherhood. Failing these kids who were struggling so.
Lenny and I desperately grasped at parenting books, articles, and experts for the answers. I called friends who had faced similar challenges and soaked up their reassurances that time and patience would help heal things a bit. We focused on spending time and energy rebuilding the souls that seemed beaten down.
And while I’m sure all that we did to love our kids along the way certainly helped, I’m also confident we didn’t always do what was “right” in the situation. I lost my cool far too often. I said things that were hurtful out of frustration. And I often wished precious time away.
Then somewhere along the way, there was a shift. I found I wasn’t holding my breath as much, and the kids were smiling more — giggling together. The tension that had filled the air in our house was slowly beginning to melt away. It was bigger than us, and all we were doing to try to fix things, I believe. Positive energy flowed from new friendships, new environments, and new perspectives.
Big started getting off the bus with a smile, happy to talk about his day. About the story he was writing, and who had scored the big touchdown at recess. Little couldn’t wait for Monday to roll around, so he could get back to his friends at school. I found that Pink was wanting to climb up the slide all by herself, to go higher on the swing, and to sing her way through all of it.
But it was last week when it really hit me. The change. And I might have missed it, given the general chaos of life these days, if the loving teachers who have taken our kids by the hand and heart — and helped them find their strides — hadn’t gently pointed it out.
Big’s teacher referred to him as “so laid back” — words I’ve certainly never used to describe him. But I will now. Because he has made enormous progress, and I would love for him to hear those words and want to live up to them. To be the kind of person who is cool under pressure.
Little’s teacher told me that he’s just so wonderful to have in class. And he couldn’t be more ready for kindergarten — the way he participates in class, the way he sits and listens, and even the way he’s a friend to the other kids in the class. Her words washed over me like a glorious breath of fresh air.
Even Pink’s teachers were eager to tell me how well she handled Lenny and me being away. Because when you’re only two years old, eight days is an eternity. And in Pink’s case, it was just long enough for her to learn a couple of wonderful tricks to show off upon our return. For days I’ve had a smile on my face overhearing, “Stand in your hood. Stand in your hood. Put your hands in, and flip it over your head! Flip it over!” Yes, her brilliant teacher taught her how to put her sweatshirt on all by herself. Which is almost as wonderful as hearing a never-ending version of, “Skinamarinky dinky dink, skinamarinky doo, I love you!”
All three kids are honestly and truly happy at this point in time. It’s a real gift as a parent to have a moment when happy is everywhere. So I’m soaking it up. And hoping that it lasts just a bit longer. Because happy sure does suit these little people I adore.