First Grade

For six years I blogged about my son over on Scribbling in San Antonio, and as you all know, I gave it  up this summer before he went into first grade for fear of too-much-information. You also know I’ve struggled with not talking about him because, hell, I might be a writer, a wife, and a human being — but once I became a mother, those more exciting parts of myself shrank down considerably. So much so that I often need a magnifying glass just to see myself in the mirror. If I wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear my son squarely on my face. I see so much of myself in him and likewise, that I’m totally lost without him.

I don’t know why I thought first grade would bring some kind of eternal freedom. That out of sight would mean out of mind. That he would start elementary school, and we’d all live happily ever after.

Little did I know it would simply be the beginning of my own personal hell.

Days spent worrying and fighting the rabid butterflies in my stomach. Lunch times wasted going over to school just to make sure he’s OK. And the thing is, I think he’s handling school very well. It’s me who has the problem.

I keep telling myself that if it weren’t for these damn spelling tests, everything would be fine.

See, my son is a daydreamer with an artist’s spirit. He’s very bright and work comes easily to him, that is, when he wants to do it. Like myself, he often tunes things that he finds uninteresting out. He often talks to himself in class and doesn’t listen to the teacher. A spelling test he aces at the dinner table with me the night before, when taken for real, is perfect half way through and then at some point turns into hobbly gobbly. I understand this about my son and try and respect the beautiful, creative spirit that he is, but at the same time feel violently frustrated that he just can’t focus. I’m reading the books and talking to his GT teacher, but still, it’s hard to shut off that part of your brain that wants your child to succeed in the traditional sense of the word. For him to validate how smart you know he is.

So I’m learning. I’m learning to let go. Ultimately, raising a child who leaves home with his beautiful mind fully intact is the most important thing, not the D he got on a spelling test in the first grade. He is all the things that frustrate me about myself. He’s all the wonderful things, and more, but we are two peas in a pod, so his struggles are my own. I don’t want to lose him to school and homework and grades. I know that is not who he is no matter what the report card might tell me. Maybe I was naive to think public school could give him what he needs. Maybe he already has everything he needs and I need to back off and love him for what he is. Maybe it’s a combination of all these things.

Maybe it’s not that I need to be a better mother.

Maybe I need to be a better soul mate.

I’m trying.


1 thought on “First Grade

  1. jengod

    This post has really stuck with me since I read it for the first time yesterday. I think you’re the greatest, and I’m sure your kid feels the same. Could you possibly homeschool him? Seems like you’re most of the way there already with all your wonderful wonderful books!


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