Friday, August 10, 2012

An Emotional Start To Kinder

I know it's been a bit quiet around her.  The kids started school on Wednesday and I tried to stay offline as much as possible.  And you'd think since starting school things would have calmed down a bit, but it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride of emotions the past couple of days.   
The night before the big day, we went bowling together as a family treat, then followed up with dinner at the kid's favorite restaurant, CPK.  Things were going smoothly and everyone was up to their usual antics. 
Taylor learned to bowl sans ramp.  The good old between the leg toss got her a decent score. 
Syd, determined to win, stuck with the ramp and aimed most of his shots perfectly.
Art worked on perfecting his launch, in dramatic fashion.  He took 3 years of bowling in college.  He takes his bowling very seriously.
And I, well I just sat there most of the time, but I did at one point go head to head with a bowling ball.  The belly won without a fight.
The next morning came, and although Syd said he was a bit nervous, he trudged on and we trekked across the street to class. 
Luckily he was assigned Taylor's old kinder teacher Miss Peel, so we thought we had a slam dunk on our hands.  His big sister was at the same school, familiar playground, familiar teacher.  He had it made right?
He continued to be all smiles until it came time to leave.  And then the waterworks ensued.  Big ol' crocodile tears that break a momma's heart.
He had a super short day that first day and when I picked him up he seemed fine.  But when we got home he said he just stood there at recess because he didn't know what to do.  Within an hour he was telling me he didn't want to go back.  He continued moping around and whimpering all day.  Even Jules' boys, who were visiting so that we could get a little Craft Cabinet planning done, couldn't break him out of his funk.  By the late afternoon, he was complaining of an upset stomach.

By that night, whimpers had turned into sobs and he was distraught beyond comfort, saying over and over again that he didn't want to go back and begging me, yes begging, to be home schooled.  He was scared to eat lunch by himself, scared he'd have to play by himself at recess. 

The next morning he woke up at 6:30 (early for him) and crawled into my bed.  I could tell he had been crying, and he started again begging me not to send him to school.  He sobbed the entire morning as we got ready for school, and sobbed loud pathetic sobs at drop off.  Outside of the classroom I almost punched another mom in the face when she looked at me, not realizing Syd was my boy, and said "There's always a crier."

The thing is I know he will end up being okay.  Taylor cried for 6 whole weeks at kinder drop off and one day she just stopped and now she genuinely loves school.  Syd's teacher told me at pick up yesterday that he cried for all of 1 minute and then was fine the rest of the day.  Today's drop off was a little whimpery, but no real tears or sobbing fits, so there's improvement already. 

But in the mean time, there's a part of me that can't help but wonder what I'm doing wrong here.  Why are my kids so afraid of change, and so stuck with the idea of being at home?  I wonder if I've done something to make them feel insecure, or haven't given them enough confidence.  I know it's probably unrealistic for me to think that way, but as a mother sometimes you can't help but feel your child's behaviors are always a reflection of how you're raising them.

Art reminded me that I was the exact same way, from the stories I told him, when I was a kid.  After all, I called my mom to pick me up from Junior High camp because I was so terribly homesick.  I always assumed it was because of my chaotic and dysfunctional upbringing, that I wasn't secure enough to feel safe to leave home.  But maybe it is just inbred in me, and now inbred in my kids?  Homebodies that feel most comforted at home and resist change at all costs, but will adapt if completely necessary?

Either way I've been doing a lot of praying that he makes this adjustment a bit easier than Taylor did, for his sake and ours.  At this age, I think all any of us want for our kids is for them to just be happy.  And it breaks my heart to see his personality and moods affected this way.

If any of you have similar sob stories, especially as it relates to boys, I'd love to hear them.  I had breakfast with Sarah yesterday and she told me her son's teacher said that a boy cries the most in Kinder and 1st grade than in any other time in their life.  I sadly want that to be true so that I know his emotional tug of war is somewhat in the realm of "normal".  As a woman, I can understand more of where my girl is coming from when she cries, but I honestly feel so helpless when I see my son cry over sadness like this.   

Thanks so much for listening guys.  And again, any feedback, advice or commiseration that you'd like to share, I'm all ears :)


  1. You know what I read here??? That your sweet boy loves you SO MUCH that he doesn't want to be away from you all day. And to me, THAT sounds like you're doing something right.

    Hang in there, mama. Syd will adjust and learn to love school, too!

  2. My son is 4 so I can't relate quite yet. He is attached to my hip. He absolutely loves spending time with me wherever I am and he still cuddles. We were thinking about enrolling him in a pre-school program near us, but they only had full day pre-school available from 8am-3pm and I just don't think he can be away from me for that long a few days a week. I would love to find a program that is just for a few hours, a couple days a week to get him adjusted to the group setting of kindergarten. I hope I can find something like that. Did your son go to pre-school? He certainly sounds like the same personality type as my little guy. I've found that he doesn't like change much, but being consistent and sticking to a strict schedule has really helped him to adapt to something new. Keep your chin up. You're doing a great job. I just think he wants to spend his time with you and he doesn't really understand why you can't be there.

    As a side note, I'm also pregnant (19 weeks). You'll have to let me know how Syd adjusts to the baby's arrival. Is he 6 now or 5?

  3. Wow. My son is going to start 2nd grade next week. Neither he or his older sister had tears over starting school, BUT. BUT. He's still a big crier, still very, very emotional. He's also a love-bug and makes quite a production and ritual over the amount of kisses & hugs and in what order they must be given when we say good-bye on the schoolground each day. He's already told (warned) me that this will continue with the new school year. And I've gotten a good share of nice-but-actually-snarky comments from other moms over how he clings and loves on me each morning.

    My son also HATES CHANGE and hoards his every treasure and talks constantly about how he's not too worried, as there'll be time travel in the future so he can go back and re-visit every lost moment. It all sounds plenty sweet to read, but I've had many moments of doubt and worry over what I've done wrong to make him so anxious and fearful. We had an incident on our cruise vacation a couple weeks back, of tears that lasted almost all day, that made me think one of us needs therapy.

    In the end, all I can offer is what I've experienced so far: at pre-school, and then into grade school, he's displayed barely a fraction of his worrisome behaviors with others. It's true that they are so different with others vs. with mom. We are the safe place where all the fears and freak-outs can occur. As the first poster said, hang in there! You, and most especially he, will be okay.

  4. i think your kids just don't want to go to school because staying with their momma is so awesome, they just can't imagine how school would be any fun ;)

    im sure thats tough for you... but syd will adjust soon, and i think its great you're already seeing progress!

  5. Mine haven't ever had a hard time with the whole drop-off thing, but we have a loooooot of whining in the weeks/days leading up to school. My oldest is already complaining about going to 1st grade and how she will hate it, she doesn't want new friends, blah blah blah. I think she's really just scared b/c it is a new school! I think you handled the situation just perfectly! You addressed his fears, but stayed firm and took him anyways. Keep on, especially if the teacher notes that he does well after a few minutes of crying. You're a great mom!

  6. Aww bless his little heart.I myself was a crier :( I was so attached to my mom, I can remember being dropped off and being in hysterics even though my older brother went to the same school. It is true with time they seem to just adjust on their own. I, like you, had my mom pick me up from camp as well ha ha. Funny enough my daughter on the other hand has gone to playschool with out a fuss, she doesnt even care if I am around half the time - i think she must get that from my husband.
    Good things to reinforce a good day at school is use a simple reward system - yeay you went to school today put a sticker up on the calendar when you get 5 maybe him and mommy can do something special together :) (this is the behaviourist in my talking - works like a charm )

  7. When LBUSD had a week-long outdoor science school we'd take our 5th grade students (10-11 yr olds). Who had the most homesickness? The boys, by FAR! The girls, I think, tended to have more experience staying over at other people's houses and had closer more "intimate" relationships with their peers.

    Once Syd gets a crew and a couple good friends he'll be fine. He may never be one of those kids who loves going to school, but I don't think that really matters. You're teaching him that this is an important part of growing up and supporting his new-found independence (even if it's fragile at this point). There's nothing wrong with you or the way you've raised your kids. These kind of changes are hard and painful, but that's ok and is not necessarily a bad thing.

  8. Hang in there, Andrea! Syd will be adjusted in no time. Have you tried having Taylor give him advice about how she got through it? I think just listening to him and reiterating anything he says so that he feels he's being heard is important. I know whenever Matthew gets emotional or scared about anything, just repeating what he tells me helps a lot. Any time I try to dissuade him of his feelings, it usually backfires and gets him stirred up more. You can even share with him what you do when you go somewhere new (blog conference?) and don't know you make friends. If he can understand that every other kid there is probably just as scared as he is, so maybe if he makes the first step in making a new friend, that would help both of them. Good luck...big hugs to you and Syd.

  9. Hang in there, Andrea! Syd will be adjusted in no time. Have you tried having Taylor give him advice about how she got through it? I think just listening to him and reiterating anything he says so that he feels he's being heard is important. I know whenever Matthew gets emotional or scared about anything, just repeating what he tells me helps a lot. Any time I try to dissuade him of his feelings, it usually backfires and gets him stirred up more. You can even share with him what you do when you go somewhere new (blog conference?) and don't know you make friends. If he can understand that every other kid there is probably just as scared as he is, so maybe if he makes the first step in making a new friend, that would help both of them. Good luck...big hugs to you and Syd.

  10. It's funny how we moms assume it's something we are doing wrong. When I saw Syd looking so sad and asking to be homeschooled, it made me feel a little jealous. The boys never cry when they leave me. In fact, Mikey used to cry when I would pick him up from preschool! It was humiliating, and several moms looked at me like I was a child abuser. I was so ashamed that I would pick him up late every day so that people wouldn't see me and THE CHILD WHO CRIED WHEN IT WAS TIME TO GO HOME.

    He loved it when I picked him up late. :(

    Nicholas also shows absolutely no sign of missing me. School is all he can talk about. :(

    So, no words of advice. Just more of a "yeah, I know that 'what am I doing wrong' feeling all too well." It sucks, but I suspect that we aren't doing anything wrong. The kids are who they are, whether our egos like it or not. ;)

  11. I always describe my kids as slow to warm to a new situation or new people. I don't look at it as insecure just cautious. I know where they got it from - Me! :-) My son is heading to K this fall too and your story tugged at the heart strings. Hang in there, he'll settle in. I just try to let my kids know that they usually settle in after a bit of time and that I am confident that they will eventually love (whatever they are adjusting to) and they usually do. It also helps me. I suspect you are doing great, so be nice to yourself!

  12. My almost-five year old Henry cries when I drop him off, but 3 yr old Tess sashays off without a backwards glance. Last year, when I would drop Henry off, he cried for weeks in the morning. Even when he got to the point where he was not outright crying, he was still very sad-face-quivering-lip every morning. But teachers report that he is fine within five minutes of my leaving.

    My oldest, on the other hand, cried all the time when I dropped him off at preschool, and throughout the morning, and when I picked him up. I eventually pulled him out of that preschool and got a nanny (this is back when I was working, and he was much younger than your kindergartener).

    My kids are all homebodies, they would love to stay home if I let them.

  13. Well...I'm glad I am catching up on reading today! I needed to read this for sure! My son is the SAME way. He has always clung to me or his Dad. He is not great with any change and cries and wants to be at home a lot. I've always felt so guilty because I work and also for raising him away from our hometown and family. My husband and I are complete homebodies. Truth be told we are living in a town (since 2000) that we really haven't made "home". We spend a lot of time together (just us) and don't really have a lot of interaction with friends, kids, etc. So, since he's been born I feel like I don't have a great support system in place here. I wonder if that has affected him at all. I don't know. I think kids just have a fear of fitting in at any age and change is just scary (for anyone really). It'll get easier. I've learned I have to push my son to do things because of the way our life is...even though is emotional torment for me :(

    Hang in there little Syd! He's such a cutie!

  14. This brought back memories of my Bub's first day of kinder--his last words before we left the house with lip trembling, "I'll go, but I'm not gonna like it!" His eyes filled once as I dropped him off and he played alone in the sand under a slide and he watched me far longer than I could watch him--He had the same teacher at his sister, we had visited the classroom and playground often--he just has a hard time with change--always has. Happily, things turned around and he grew to love it--loved his teacher and there were tears the last day of school as well because his wonderful experience was coming to a close and all the uncertainty of first grade loomed before him. Even more so happily, as we wait for teachers to be posted as he enters second grade--there's no fear or anxiousness about it. He doesn't seemed worried and I sense a growing in him that wasn't there two years ago.He will probably always be my homebody. He enjoys being home and I think it's because he feels comfort there and he is the kind of kid that given some attention, doesn't need all these experiences or things to make him happy. Syd is going to be fine as will you: )

  15. Ugh. I'm so sorry. This was so sad to read! I have a boy who is going into second grade and he was definitely always more emotional than his big sis. I think they've switched roles now. ;) I think it just shows what a lovely home life you must have and he loves you. He'll slowly adjust to this new world called "school".

  16. I'm not a mommy, but I just have to agree with the first commenter: You must be doing something right, because it sounds like your children adore you and know home is a place where they are safe and comfortable. That's a good thing, and I've no doubt that Syd will adjust with time and friendships. Keep your chin up, Andrea. It sounds like you're doing a pretty darn good job to me. :)


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