First Grade has been a year full of new challenges, lots of learning and growing but not just for my 7-year-old but for me too. In September I put my 6-year-old on a bus for the first time in his backpack that still seemed a little too big and in June I watch my 7-year-old run off the bus waving to friends setting up play dates and that back pack doesn’t seem so big anymore.
He learned a lot this year but I think I’ve learned a lot more.
What I Learned in First Grade
First Grade taught me that public school is not preschool. It’s not the warm, welcoming place where everybody knows your name. It’s not a place where I pick my son up at his classroom and can chat with his teacher about his day. Now communication is different. There are folders and classroom DoJo and emailing the teacher when there is a problem.
Gone are my days of excited shouts that mom is here for pick-up. Gone are the days of chatting with the other moms in the hall as we anxiously await the end of class. The only parents I meet are those that volunteer at parties or field trips. We don’t plan after school play dates or chat about what summer programs our kids are doing.
First grade taught me about advocating for your child even when speaking up doesn’t come naturally to you. It meant phone calls to transportation to report problems on the bus or to request a seat to be moved. It meant dealing with bullies and not letting him see how much his sadness broke my heart. It was learning to keep my emotions in check when talking to teachers and the principal.
It taught me that kids can move on fast and that the kid who was a problem in September can become a best friend by January and that January’s problems will be forgotten by May. But moms remember forever.
First Grade taught me to let him grow up. From riding the bus to buying lunch to going out to play with friends after school. It forced me to let him make his own decisions and choices. It taught me that so many things are beyond my control and that once he steps on that bus he is outside my hands.
First Grade brought an end to play sets and characters and brought on more Lego’s and Captain Underpants books and video games.
First Grade means I’m no longer his choice as a playmate. It means that after school he’s racing out the door to play with his friends.
First Grade taught me just how fast it goes and how quickly my baby became a toddler and then a preschooler and a kindergartener and now a boy, who is not so little anymore but is still little. It taught me to hold on a little tighter, especially now when he still wants to. It taught me to look up from my work, to close my computer, to go outside and grab a water gun and play because it’s all moving so much faster than I noticed.
They say kids learn a lot in First Grade, but man, so do moms.