Your first child takes you places you have never been. They tug you along winding unknown trails fraught with unforeseen peril, sudden switchbacks and seemingly unscale-able mountains. You wend your way wildly along, hands clasped, half-stumbling, groping amongst low-hanging branches. Amazingly, at times, you find yourself suddenly atop a mountain, breathless, the wind whipping your hair as you look out on this sudden vista of such profound and immense beauty that it hurts, physically, to behold. Sometimes you might get to sit awhile. Enjoy the view. Catch your breath. Other times you are yanked from your reverie and off you go again, praying fervently that your feet find steady ground as you run along behind.
Gryffin has been in kindergarten for about 4 months now and we find ourselves, as always, in uncharted land. While we’ve settled in to making lunches, remembering library books and backpacks and parent/teacher conferences, there has been other, more murky terrain to navigate in this new year.
Friends who make fun of his shirt on “spirit day” until he quietly removes it over by the cubbies and stuffs it in his backpack.
Friends who laugh so much at the sunglasses he so proudly wore one morning that he vows never to wear them again.
Friends who won’t sit by him at lunch if he brings a certain kind of sandwich so he insists I make him something else, even though he doesn’t like it.
I drop him off every morning and watch him walk apprehensively onto the playground, eyes slowly scanning the blacktop for his “friends.” His face is such a bald commingling of hopefulness, fear, and uncertainty that I almost have to look away.
They aren’t bullies, these kids. And Gryffin genuinely seems to like going to school. But teaching a six-year-old about confidence and being brave: being ok with being Gryffin? It’s harder than I imagined. Who wants to hear about developing genuine and meaningful relationships when you’re just hoping somebody will sit by you in the cafeteria? I know he’ll be ok, really, but it’s brought some anguish to us this week as Jason and I have lumbered along beside him on this unfamiliar path.
It seems that with your second child, even though the landscape has changed, sometimes significantly, you have the faint memory of having been here before. You remember that there is a steep ledge off to this side, an uphill climb around that bend. You also remember the breathtaking, blinding beauty that comes at unexpected turns so you don’t feel quite so afraid. I’ll keep my eyes peeled now for those places in this unexplored territory with my firstborn. We’ll get through this bend in the trail and I know the view will be all the more worth it for what we’ve crossed to get to it.