End of the school year is always a time of reflection for me. Each year seems to go by a little faster then the year before. During the hurry up and go-go-go of the regular school year I don’t often take time to really absorb things. At the end of the year it always catches me by surprise.
Kinsley 4th grade. 4th grade was a tough, tough year for my girl. The girl drama that has always been a part of her school year exploded this year. So much so that a book club had to be assembled with the counselor to try and help these girls navigate their relationship. Then there was the threat made to Kinsley by a student on the bus. The threat was serious and for the first time in my life I was afraid to send my child to school. A troubled student who was in her class, rode her bus and lived in our neighborhood seem to develop a crush on Kinsley. Unfortunately his social skills and emotions were ‘off’ and that crush manifested into aggression and bullying. After a failed attempt to get her attention on the bus he told her, “I’d like to put a bullet in your brain and watch you die.” My heart stops even typing this. This child was so off that even after being brought to the office and taken out of the classroom he stopped by one day to ask Kinsley to play. When I explained to him that Kinsley wouldn’t be playing with him and that he wasn’t welcome at our home I was terrified. Soul-less eyes, dead emotions and absolutely no concept of consequences stared back at me. He is 10 years old. In my heart I have no doubt that he is capable of doing just what he threatened. Luckily the school took this matter very, very seriously and taking into account other issues with this child, took hasty action. He was expelled and subsequently they moved from our neighborhood but not before the event left a mark on my daughter.
This was the year she had to learn that adults aren’t always “fair” when the only 2 coaches she’s ever had formed a travel softball team with everyone she ever played with. When she found out about the situation we offered to let her try another activity. This is the year where I saw a child with more character then those adults as she, with a trembling lip, squared her shoulders and made the statement, “That’s not what Little League is all about. I am going to play. I’ll make new friends.” She played that fall and again this spring. Last week she was awarded the TEAM LEADER ball for her great attitude, her coach ability and her leadership on the field. From the hurt she rose victorious and I am so proud of her.
At 10-puberty began knocking HARD on the door. She got glasses and a bra—just like her mama. I am hoping and praying she weathers both with the same strength and character she showed on the softball field.
Her brain continues to amaze me. She surpassed standards on her report card. Her standardized test scores were off the charts. PACE studies were more engaging and harder then ever. Academically I consider this year a test. This was also the first year we had more then one conduct ‘mark’ on the report card, though. That same spunk and spirit that serves her well in other areas didn’t mesh so well with the 4th grade teachers.
Daddy-daughter dances, competing and not getting the GA young author nod, drama, silliness, new friends…this year had ups and downs.
Colton 7th grade. My boy also had a tough year. Puberty didn’t knock at his door though most of the fellas in the class welcomed the visitor. Being short and small was suddenly much, much more noticeable. The success of the summer swimming petered out, as we weren’t able to enroll him in year round swimming. I regret that, as not having that outlet seemed to hinder and hurt my guy. A swim scholarship was offered, and gratefully accepted, and he was able to get back into the pool. A little too late to be much of a contender at the short-course state level but he fought for it—which always makes me proud. This year was the year that groups began forming….or it was the first year my son noticed the cliques. 7th grade taught him that he wasn’t popular. Girls were mean and that bullying hurts. The bullying wasn’t severe but it hurt. He took those matters into his own hands and didn’t share a lot but I could see the effect it had on his sunny disposition.
This was the year of the first kiss. The continuation of heartbreak as he fell in ‘love’ more then once only to have girls break his heart. Over and over and over. There were more group activities and lots of ‘face time’ via the iTouch. Face time is electronic dating in my mind.
He went out for track when he realized that those bullies thought swimming wasn’t cool. I never saw a single event. This seem to be something he needed to do on his own-which I begrudgingly respected.
There were no award this year despite his getting all dressed up in turquoise cargo shorts and a collared shirt with his hair slicked over. I do believe that image will haunt me for a very, very long time.
Only 1 teacher seemed to ‘get’ him this year, which was hard for him to accept. Math almost beat him but somehow he managed to survive it. It wasn’t pretty but he did it. Writing was his nemesis this year as his ping-pong way of thinking and his lack of attention for details caught up with him and made him produce less then acceptable creative writing assignments. He struggled, we tried to help but I don’t know that we did much good.
This year took him a few more steps along his path and a few more steps away from me. It was a constant battle of me trying to pull him back for just a little longer while struggled to forge ahead. I got less hugs and more sideways smiles.
Another year ends. Another one will begin soon enough and it is sure to move even faster then this one. Having a 5th and an 8th grader is sure to bring more drama, more changes and well…more of everything.
Ready or not…here it comes.