What a week!
The convergence of finishing the last week of school, buying and baking teacher gifts, dealing with Terminix (termites having been swarming in my kitchen on and off for two weeks, which has been totally awesome), coping with the stress of summer camp cabin placements, and suffering from some crazy-ass PMS (my apologies) has been about as traumatic as when I went for my 37-week checkup when I was pregnant with Dylan and my doctor told me I had preeclampsia and needed to go straight to the hospital for a c-section, except that Mike and I were supposed to go to his office holiday party that night, I was supposed to get a haircut the next morning, I hadn’t stopped working yet, I’d just eaten a turkey sub (epidural would have to wait 8 hours), I had no bag packed and no birth plan whatsoever, Harry was at Petco getting groomed, and there was a full moon (and thus every Tom, Dick, and Harry was going to have a baby that night).
It. Was. Nuts.
This week has been pretty nutty, too, but in the middle of all the chaos (and PMS-related crying), Dylan, my first baby, graduated from Kindergarten.
It’s been a monumental year of learning for Dylan. First and foremost, he learned that recess is the best part of the day. Less significant (to him, anyway), he learned to read, spell, and add and subtract, and he even knows a little bit about vertices. That’s right, there’s geometry in the Kindergarten math curriculum. I predict that I won’t be able to help with his first grade math homework by Thanksgiving.
It’s also been a big year of growing. Literally. On graduation morning, I discovered that his pants were a smidge too short. (Oops.)
And figuratively. Dylan has grown this year in ways that will help make him a decent, caring, and giving adult.
A few days ago, Dylan told me about a boy at school who played soccer too rough at recess. He purposely kicked kids in the legs and threw the ball at Dylan and his friend’s faces. I said, “That kid sounds like a real piece of…a real piece of…” I paused for a moment to choose my words wisely when Dylan piped in with, “…shit. He’s a real piece of shit.”
Isn’t it adorable how we finish each other’s sentences?
Yes, shit is a bad word. Yes, Dylan said it. Out loud. But, we have an understanding. Helping him recognize the qualities of a good friend – kindness, honesty, trust, empathy, and responsibility – in others and within himself has been backbreaking work this year, and if a little bit of tough (or “shit”) talk helped me get through to him, then so be it.
Dylan had a tough time with one particular boy in his class this year. I did everything I could to intervene, but no matter what I said or did, Dylan repeatedly made himself vulnerable and got hurt over and over again. He just didn’t get it. He didn’t understand that the kid wasn’t a good friend, and it was infuriating!
Let’s face it. Dylan’s going to encounter mean people at every age and stage of his life. I’m all grown up (or an “Old Lady” as Riley so lovingly calls me), and I still meet mean people and struggle with friendships – with knowing when they’re authentic (or not), knowing when they’re healthy (or not), and knowing when to hold on to them (or not).
I want to empower Dylan to make smart decisions about with whom he makes friends (and, thankfully, he has some fantastic ones), but that’s a lot for a six-year-old to handle, especially after spending his toddlerhood in an “everyone is your friend” bubble.
A few weeks ago, Dylan came home from school upset because a kid tossed one of his Ninjago swords into the bushes. I told him that I felt really bad about the situation, but I reminded him that, in the end, he was responsible for his own toys. I asked him, “Why did you let this kid play with your toys in the first place?” Silence. Then crying. “Is this kid a good friend? Does he care about your feelings? Does he care if you get hurt?” More crying. “Does he care enough about you to be responsible with your toys? Does he look out for your best interests?” And more crying.
I lost it. I said (or perhaps shouted), “Dylan, I have a secret to tell you. Some people in this world are mean. I’m all grown up and I meet mean people all the time. So does Daddy. It’s sad and it’s disappointing, but some people are just not nice. Some people are just…they’re just shitty, and this kid at school who threw your toy in the bushes seems like a real shit. You’re going to meet mean and shitty people all the time, so you have to try your best to surround yourself with nice people who truly care about you.”
Did I go too far? Probably. Did I curse a lot? Yup. Did I break his innocent little heart? I think so. But, did I finally get through to him? The look on his face told me Y-E-S.
It took almost all of Kindergarten, but Dylan is finally beginning to understand what it means to be a good friend, and I can’t think of a more important lesson for him to carry through his life.
This has been a year chock-full of changes for Dylan, including his pants size! Fortunately, he’s held on tight to his passion, imagination, and irrevocable ability to live with his big, beautiful, beating heart on his sleeve. Last year, Dylan announced on his Pre-K graduation video that when he grows up he wants to be a popcorn maker. (He does love popcorn.) A year later, he’s a few inches taller, a lot smarter, and gobs wiser, but he’s the same little dreamer, only now he occasionally says “shit,” and per his Kindergarten graduation ceremony slide show, when he grows up he wants to be a sticker book seller. (He does love sticker books.)
Dream big, Pickle!
Off to first grade…
(And off to Pre-K for the little guy…)
Congratulations to all of your graduates – big and small!
3 responses to “The Graduate”
Also spent this term dealing with the problem of ‘mean kids’ at my son’s school, being the new English kid in a Portuguese school. Finally got through it and guess what, they’re all now best friends. So interesting to hear how you coped with it.
Your son sounds like a fabulous young man. You’re raising him right! 😉