Mr G's first day of 5th (which is middle school in this school) today.
Mr B's first day of 1st grade, same school.
Both taking the bus. Mr G has the early bus, 7:15, but also the handy bus-stop - right across from the house. For Mr B we have to loop around the block (or three blocks), about an hour later. Just putting B on the bus is making the mama bear in me gnash teeth - though I think if I had the experience before, I'd be far more comfortable. Mr G was in 4th grade when he started taking the bus, so it's just the 'but he's so little' thing that sets the fur growing down my back and kicks off the sudden craving for wild blueberries and salmon... mama bear seems to be a grizzly.
I'm not too nervous about Mr G, other than the fact that he's resisted reviewing any of his math from last year, and forcing him is
like beating my head on bricks kind of challenging. He chose to live with feeling stressed over it, rather than doing something about it (directly, intentionally chose). So his first-day quiz is likely to leave him sweating a bit, and it may be a bit more of a 'learning experience' than either of us would wish. But it is just the first-day quiz, and he'll rebound later. He didn't succeed at doing summer bridge work either of the last two years, even with my mom working it. He did fine both times. Both times were not middle school, though.
Ah, well, he'll roll with it, I suppose. The mama bear me is feeling a bit growly at him, but he's already moved out of range for a paw swipe. Growing up. He'll learn whether to stick his nose too close to a porcupine. And to identify if it is one, first.
Socially, Mr G's a bit intimidated by the 8th graders (they're so tall), but... he'll be mainly with his friends from last year in most of his classes - almost everyone in his class placed into the same levels for the upcoming year. A few went up or down one on one or another subject, but not many. Since I like the kids from last year. I'm particularly glad that he'll be lumped in another year with the two who were his closer friends. Friend C is the single most well-mannered and well-spoken child I have ever met - actually, I think the most well-mannered and well-spoken person, including adults - and Friend B still harbors a terrible crush on Mr G. She shows some persistence on that, which I don't know whether to consider remarkable or normal for her age. When I ran into her earlier in the summer, she practically begged me to tell her that Mr G hadn't cut his hair short this year. Anyway, they're both bright, considerate, thoughtful, creative, kind individuals with that kind of gentleness that makes me think of 'steel-strong inner core'. Not squishy, just no need to lash out or flail about to feel safe in themselves. What my mom used to call that 'well-loved' feeling. Another year spent in their company is not a bad thing at all. On that, mama bear is content to wander off and munch some berries and snooze in the sun.
I admit to being more nervous about Mr B, who is doing his first non-Montessori classroom experience. It can take a while to adapt to the at-desk, lecture-based classroom. But, he's excited. He loves the classroom (he clutched his desk and told me he didn't want to leave at the end of the meet-the-teacher time), he loves the library (in the classroom, as well as the one for the school), he knows where everything is from visiting Mr G last year for events, he's confident he knows how to handle it all... it's just me who is not entirely confident.
I worry about the transitions, mostly. He takes a little more time than average to warm up to people and situations. In that time period, a lot can happen that sets expectations. I know he will settle in, on his own schedule. I guess I'm more concerned that things will move on without him while he's doing so. I find myself wanting to stay there with him until he's really set and ready, just to remind people that it is okay for him to take his time with the process. Once he's in and adjusted, transitions aren't such a bother... so just that first day, or rather, just the morning of the first day.
But I also know doing that would mean he would have to choose between my
overprotection support and being a full part of the class. So far, he seems to be comfortable defining 'school time' as his own - that is, in meet-the-teacher events, he clings by my side, but on actual school days, even though he likes a few extra hugs or cuddles, once he's done, he just wants us to leave already. So, I'll bite my tongue, give him a kiss, and keep the mama bear version of me at home for now. I think she'll be gnawing at my ankle all day, though.
His teacher has some major good points, and the rest is just stuff we'll learn as things go. She is a reading specialist (he has an articulation delay, though it is minimal at this point, he dislikes reading out loud because of the pronunciation fears), and a good third of her class from last year came in to say hello during the meet-and-greet, even though it wasn't in the schedule to do so. Lots of hugs from last year's students. So, she can hardly be a tyrant. She's quite popular with her students, in fact. At least two were literally dragging their parents down the hall to her room to say hi before going off to meet their new teacher.
Mr B also already has a plan. Other than listening to the teacher and learning the new classroom rules (which we all expect will be very close to his old classroom rules), his plan is to make friends with the kids sitting nearest to him. He keeps fantasizing that he doesn't have to do this, or that it will be easier than ever ("Mom, wouldn't it be funny if the kids sitting next to me I already knew?"), but he's confident that he's likable, and provided he doesn't have any temper tantrums ... Ah, wait, there's a real concern under there - on Friday, he accidentally ate one of his brother's cereal bars instead of the new ones I found for him that were safe for Fructose Malabsorption. Which means that today is day three of fermentation, the cumulative worst day of function, and last night in the bath his belly was blown up like a balloon, which means fermentation was going full-bore. So today he may have a hard time keeping on top of himself, focusing, following rules rather than his 'but I wanna' side, being kind, etc. Kind of a bugger, that. I need to remember to send in a note to the teacher. She's been advised of the issues, anyway. Sigh. Not the first impression I'd want. Still, he does way better at school on those days than he does at home - the School Child version of him (compared to the Home Child) has just a little more skill on self-management, enough that he can usually hold himself in check, even if he has to grit his teeth and close his eyes and clench his fists to do it.
They have my phone number if they need it... I hope they don't need it. They probably won't need it. 90% odds that he'll do fine, even with the fermentation.
I'm working on the Acceptant Loving Faithful issue here - Definitely having to step back and be Acceptant of Mr G's process. Loving enough to keep a watchful eye and point out the potentially ouchy bits - once or twice. But enough Faithful to let him navigate his own path on that. Harder to do that with Mr B, who is still young enough that he's only just starting to transition out into his own space. He's just starting to show the signs of being seven (which he isn't, by birthday, but development doesn't follow the calendar 100%) - the loss of inner organization, the increased social astuteness and empathy, the periodic random obsessions that have nothing to do with what else is going on (which he already had but are getting worse with this transition). As he gets further into it, and probably as he continues to grow and loses more of those baby-cheeks that keep him looking younger than he is, it will be easier to take the mama bear over the next hill and let him forage without an eye on his whereabouts. Working the Acceptant Loving Faithful on him takes a bit more conscious effort, as the Safe Respectful Kind (especially Safe) and Effective Prudent True (especially Prudent) have been so central for the last few years.
Deep breath. Relax. The radar isn't going off - I have no sense of danger from the school or teacher or situation. Only worry about Mr B's own function, which I cannot control for, and which the teacher already knows about. I've advised as much as is reasonable and fair.
gnaw gnaw gnaw
Pardon me a moment while I bap the mama bear on the nose with a rolled up bus schedule...