As of last Monday KJ is officially a first grader.
I’m pretty sure you heard the news. After all, it was the first thing KJ told everyone he saw that day. It was also what he was shouting from the top level of our brand-new play set. And what he was chanting repeatedly as he went potty and washed his hands. And singing as he swung on the swings. And, it was what the super-awesome, I-forgot-I-had-bought-it- tye-died t-shirt he wore home from school read in big letters across his chest: Officially a first grader.
To say I’m proud of what KJ has accomplished this year is an understatement. KJ has learned and grown so much this year. He went from a safe environment where he had known every kid and teacher almost since birth to a brand-new school where he knew exactly 1 kid. As we stood outside the school that first day watching the other kids who knew each other from preschool or sports teams or whatever I was nervous for Kevin. I was nervous because he seemed to be the only kid who didn’t know anyone. I was nervous because I know transitions can be hard for him. Nervous because everything in his life was changing so fast (just a few days before school started we welcomed Snuggle Bug into our family). I was nervous it was all too much for a little guy who had just turned five.
But I didn’t need to be. Like he always does, KJ took all of the changes in stride. He welcomed Snuggle Bug into our family with an open heart. There isn’t anything KJ wouldn’t do for Snuggle Bug, and I have honestly never seen him act anything other than completely lovingly toward her. Where he could have been jealous, he was the epitome of love. I’m such a lucky mom.
At the same time, he adjusted to school. Despite new teachers, new rules and all new friends, KJ made it work. I know it was tough on him. KJ is a quiet kid. It isn’t easy for him to open up or try new things. School must have been terrifying. But he never talked about how hard it was. And in the course of this year, he’s gone from sitting by the guard during recess with his hands over his ears (he thought the playground was too loud), to playing full-on Skylanders with a bunch of boys, not even noticing his daddy watching him from the school parking lot.
He also conquered the bus. Bus riding in our district is no easy thing. The private school kids take the bus with the public school attending junior-high aged kids. This creates a bunch of worry for both KJ and Mom. Mom worried about what KJ would learn from the big kids on the bus. KJ worried about looking different (he wore a uniform, the public school kids did not), remembering his backpack and getting off at the right stop. And that was just on the days it wasn’t raining. Throw in an umbrella and some lightening and the bus was really scary! But he made it. Between a fellow kindergartener who took the bus with him part of the week and two extremely kind junior high girls, KJ conquered the bus.
And none of that even brushes on what he’s learned in the last year. I am amazed everything he has learned. He’s gone from knowing the alphabet and basic phonics to full-on reading. He recites Bible stories and prayers. He can add. He can subtract. He even kept a journal with complete sentences and punctuation. To think he learned all of this in a year is nothing short of amazing.
When the school year started in August, I was not excited for it. I was sure school would ruin my little boy. And to some extent, I was right. KJ is not the same little boy he was the day I first dropped him off. His world is so much bigger now, and he has learned so much. He’s learned things that have made my heart swell with excitement and pride for him. And he’s learned some tough lessons about life that hurt my heart. But in the end, all of his experiences have made him who he is - an amazing, smart, funny, caring boy. I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.