This past year has been a one big for my 6 year-old son, Goofus. He started kindergarten this year—-full day. He lost 3 teeth. He had his tonsils out and finally stopped snoring. He left the only home and friends he’s ever known and moved to a new house in a new town. His mom and dad separated, and his dad now lives in a different house. His mom is tired and cranky and has less time for fun stuff. He learned to roller skate. He’s learning to write stories. He’s made new friends and loves his school. He’s become an awesome big brother.
Tonight at dinner he told me a story (that I wish I’d paid better attention to now) about constellations and how they got their names. Even though I can’t remember the story, I know he learned it on a class field trip to the planetarium last month. I’m sad I haven’t provided more activities like this for him lately, but glad his school is picking up my slack. As neighborhood schools close around us and gifted teachers lose their jobs; I feel so grateful for the holistic education Goofus receives at his Montessori public charter school. School has been his saving grace this year.
The rules, routines, and dynamics at home have all changed about every other month since school started in September. Not fun for a kid who thrives on routine. (Not fun for a mama who thrives on routine either.) His classroom is his happiest place these days. Home is a close second, but it’s second none the less.
I have mixed feelings about this: on one hand I’m happy and relieved that Goofus likes school so much. On the other hand I hate that home isn’t his happiest place and feel momentarily powerless to change that fact. I can’t really compete with school right now. For one thing, there are two teachers in his classroom. Two teachers who are like kind, patient, grandmas who never tire of answering his endless questions and singing fun songs. Okay, forget momentarily, I’m never going to compete with that.
School also happens to be the place where all of his friends hang out. I can’t/won’t have all of his friends over at one time so I can’t compete there either. On gym days he gets to run and scream with his whole class. On music day he sings his heart out and learns new songs. During reading time he sits with one of his classmates parents who has come to listen to each child read out loud, one by one. When the class takes field trips he gets to ride the bus. When I take him and his brother to the park we ride in the same old stupid car that smells like rotten food. Which brings me to the one way I am totally winning this popularity contest: food.
At first, Goofus was very excited about hot lunch. We agreed he could have hot lunch once a month and the rest of the time I’d pack his lunch. At our first parent-teacher conference in October we learned that Goofus had essentially used up all of his hot lunches for the year. The best part was that his lunch box always came home empty. So not only was he not playing by the rules, he was also pigging-out on two lunches a day for half the month! But I digress… The point is, as the novelty of hot lunch wore off, Goofus realized that Mom makes better lunches than school. Mom 1, Lunch Lady 0!
So now it’s May and summer is almost here. Goofus and his brother are signed up for a few summer camps that will inevitably make home feel like complete torture. Camp, after all, has all the best fun parts of school without any of the boring stuff. But I have a few tricks up my sleeve to tip the scales in my favor. Pop-pop and I are building a tree house in the backyard; I’ll take the boys to find all the blackberry bushes hiding in the alleys of our neighborhood; and we’ll ride our bikes to the pool on hot afternoons. Summertime is when I shine and am more inclined towards field trips and patience. I’m ready for sun and so are my boys!