Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School!

The school year has officially begun!  H, going into first grade, was SOOO excited.  We laid out two separate outfits for her to pick from in the morning because she couldn't decide. She practically jumped into bed at 8 pm and was out like a light.  In the morning, she was up and ready to go in about 15 minutes.  Of course, she did not wear either of the two outfits she had picked out the night before; instead choosing a well-worn t-shirt and shorts - her old standby.  She got increasingly anxious as the morning passed, but was able to maintain her happy disposition until the walk to school.  By that time, she didn't want to talk, didn't want her picture taken, and was down-right surly.  I know it was nerves.  The children were all waiting outside, sitting according to grade, when we crested the hill of the school - a valley of chattering, giggling, excited energy!  She went immediately down with the admonition "NO more pictures!."  B is in third grade this year.  Back-to-school is old hat for him.  He walked with us up to the school but as soon as he located one of his friends he was off like a shot.  He was excited to be back with his friends, if not for school itself.
As I've already made clear, H is a very forceful personality. At age 6 she wants to choose her own clothing, choose her own hairstyle, brush her own hair (until she is satisfied with it versus Steve or I being satisfied with it). Steve and I struggle with dealing with this particular issue.  His position is that H should wear what he thinks looks nice - hair and/or clothing.  I understand the reasoning behind that - she is a reflection of us, we want her to look good.  But one of my strongest memories as a kid is the fights I had with my mom over clothes.  My mom always wanted me to look nice, 'normal' - I wanted to look nice, too.  But we had very different ideas of what that meant.  To my mom, nice meant "like everyone else."  However, like my daughter, I had my own sense of style.  Many a perfectly good shopping trip was spoiled by the inevitable argument between what I wanted to buy and what she wanted to buy. In my opinion, we both wasted a lot of energy on that fight which, in the grand scheme of things, wasn't really too important.
So, I have taken a different tack with my daughter.  I provide the clothing - she gets to have some say - and once its in her closet, she can wear it any way, and in any strange combination, that she chooses, so long as it is age appropriate.  (My daughter is 6; she is not going to dress like she's 16. Take THAT "Shake It Up" clothes) With respect to her hair, so long as it's brushed, I don't care how she wears it - down, ponytail, 25 mismatched barrettes. I say go crazy!
At some point, her peers will crush her into shape.  They will probably make fun of her, laugh at her and make her feel awful about herself and how she looks.  She doesn't need that from me.  Besides, when she gets raised eyebrows at the grocery store or by the teacher, I just say "H dressed herself today!"  My daughter is a reflection of me - but I care much more about the heart of her than the surface; and much more about what SHE thinks of me than what the other people in the grocery store think.  Anyway, that is my long disclaimer for her clothing and hair choices in her back to school pictures!
On a different note, I'm so excited for Mandi, Karen and Jean getting to experience their first "school" -whether its Kindergarten or Pre-school.  Then, everything is "shiny and happy."  The experience is so new and different for the children that it takes days, sometimes weeks, for the fun of "getting up and going to school" to wear off -the chattering about what they did at school that day, the new fun thing that happened, the shear joy of being the Line Leader.  Not so by 3rd grade.
By 3rd grade, back to school is just a hassle - an intrusion into an otherwise perfect summer.  At the end of the day, there's no burst of excitement about what happened.  On the contrary, it's difficult to drag even a few sentences out of him.  What did you do today? - "Spelling"; what was your favorite thing about today? - "Recess" One word answers, reluctantly given, followed by "Can I go outside?" Yesterday morning (day 2, mind you) B tried to fake being sick so he could stay home; today, Steve had to practically drag him out of bed.  Fake tears on Day Three.  I think it's going to be a long year!


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