Thursday, September 15, 2011

School Days

School was difficult for me. Well, school work wasn't hard for me (excluding Math), but the social aspect of school (peer and teacher relationships) were difficult to navigate. I was always a well-liked kid, and always had friends, but I always remember feeling terribly nervous before the start of a school year, no matter the year. We moved around a lot, which was wonderful in SO many ways, but starting off the school year in an unfamiliar place was the worst. My Mom said she would send us off on the first day, and then spend the rest of the day just praying we'd have a good day.

I was the "new kid" in school in 1st grade, 6th grade and 10th grade, not including my 7th grade year in the big Middle School, and my Freshman year in the big High School. Oh, I remember the anxiety of walking into the lunch room the first time and having no idea where or with whom to sit. I got all my height in grade school, so I towered over the other kids - no hope for "blending in". I remember carrying around the map to our Virginia High School in my binder and having to refer to it to get to every single class for the first MONTH - terrified I would get lost in my new school. My older brother Andy was no help. He refused to acknowledge my existence in school - afraid of tarnishing his image, I guess. He's later apologized repeatedly for being so mean.

I'll never forget the year I got Miss Kathman for my 2nd grade teacher. I witnessed her screaming at her class for talking in the hallway when I was in 1st grade, and I prayed that I wouldn't get her. She wore high-heels and lots of gold jewelry, always had her hair set with Aqua Net, and she carried a Louis Vuitton handbag (funny the things you remember). Class assignments were posted the first day of school, and I remember walking up there with my mom to find out who my teacher was. Miss Kathman. I burst into terrified tears. I'm sure my mom didn't want to leave me there. Miss Kathman ended up being the nicest teacher ever, so long as you didn't talk in the halls or while she was teaching.

Check out the teeth! I told you.
I don't remember ever being teased about them, though, thank goodness.

We had this lunch lady, Mrs. Lemon (she was just as sour), who would collect the money for milk/hot lunch before school, but she would close up shop 5 minutes before the bell rang. We walked to school, and would hurry to the line with our change tied up in a lunch baggie for either hot lunch that day or milk money. She'd be especially upset at us because there were usually four family members to pay for when we were in line. We would always keep our eyes down on the ground, because if she made eye contact with you, she would growl, "You're late!" It was always a miracle if we got out of there with our lunch or milk tickets without being humiliated by Mrs. Lemon.

When I became a mother and my own kids started school, the anxiety resurfaced in a whole different way. Yaks has been coming home for weeks now, telling me that he doesn't have anyone to play with at recess. He's told me he just gets a drink, and then waits by the Kindergarten door for the bell to ring. Josh went to "observe" him at recess yesterday, and found the report to be true. He even saw Yaks walk over to his sister to try to play with her, and was PUSHED away. Heartbreaking! I can see why Boo doesn't want to play with her little Kindergarten BROTHER, but oh, to shun him!? I can't imagine how he must have felt. I was transported back to the lunch room all over again.

Yaks considers Boo his best friend. She's all he's ever had. When I was in labor with him the nurse exclaimed over their closeness in age and said, "They'll never know what life was like without the other," and that's the truth. I didn't realize though, that through this wonderful closeness, Yaks wasn't learning how to be friends with anyone else. I'm truly beginning to wonder if he even knows how to make friends!

He's never really expressed interest in inviting anyone over to play, hasn't really connected with other classmates at church or even cousins, without Boo! We tried taking him over to the playground to familiarize himself with the equipment. We've discussed classmates' names he may have learned that day. We're trying to always stay positive.

It's all I can do to stop myself from marching over to school during recess, grabbing a megaphone and saying, "Do you see this boy? This is Yaks, my dearest, sweetest boy. He needs a friend, people. He's a really great kid! So...who gets to play with him at recess today?" Cause really, all I see when I look at him is this little person:

I'm sure this issue and all the others will work themselves out. I know I need to quit projecting on my kids. But, don't you always want to spare your kids any ounce of pain that you experienced yourself? Josh and I were talking yesterday about how hard school can be in that respect. His school stories are more horrible than mine - teasing, taunting and ostracizing. We agreed that so long as you have one or two really good friends and influences at school, things are a lot easier to bear.

I'm praying Yaks finds that friend.


Cara and Steve said...

Oh Amy, this breaks my heart! I'm sure he will make some friends soon. I don't ever remember having a lot of friends in kindergarten, but I think by 1st grade I had my "group," and about 3 of the girls in that "group" are still my good friends today! I am somewhat surprised I had friends... my hair was a big frizzy mess on top of the frame of a petite little girl, but somehow, my friends didn't even notice. At least Yaks is a very handsome little boy :)

Doré said...

I know exactly how you are feeling! Novalie has yet to make a new good friend and it does just break your heart! It is still early in the school year so I am sure he will find a friend. Does it bother him? I tell Novalie to look for someone who doesn't have a friend as well. Things will get better!

Tim said...

This was a touching post.
I don't remember feeling the way you describe Ben in my early school years (I was one of the excited ones). But when we moved to VA things changed dramatically. I was picked on, teased, and heckled in Middle School. I remember not wanting to go at all.
Who was "that friend" who showed up for me? None other than Tyler Berg. He was popular, kind, and totally accepting. What would I have done without Tyler!? Ben's friend(s) will find him soon enough. The really great thing, in my opinion, will be when Ben starts to find others. When HE is confident enough to put his arm around someone and say, "be my friend!" like Tyler did for me. That'll be a proud day for you, Ames!

Dianna said...

Oh, I hope he finds a few wonderful friends soon! I too identify with both of your experiences. I'm confident you, Josh, and Yaks will figure this out. I can't wait to see who the lucky kids are who get to be friends with your sweet boy.

Marie' said...

Thank you for sharing this. I had no idea Yak was lonely. It breaks my heart, too. Sometimes all it takes is talking to a few friendly kids and asking them to watch over him. Let me do that.
Jerome, still to this day, has not asked for a play-date, but he has a wonderfu group of friends. Yak will too.
Cheers, Amy!

Catherine said...

oh i know how both of you feel. I hate school. I dont think I ever remember a single day where i was actually excited to go! So many horror stories that i choose just to forget. I didnt talk to a soul in Kindergarten or first grade and just sat by myself at recess. I remember my teachers trying to find friends for me. Owen was headed down this same path, which is why we took drastic measures and actually moved to a new neighborhood. We actually had to teach him to want to hang out with other kids! At least i know where he gets it :)