I was somewhat prepared for Bean starting kindergarten this year. I read a few articles about it online, talked to some friends who had been through this before, and reminded myself that Bean was fully prepared to face this next milestone. But nothing prepared me for the hardest part of kindergarten I have had to face.
Chris is having the hardest time adjusting to Bean being in kindergarten. I think he feels like Bean is too young or small or something to be dealing with all of this. Of course, if you asked Chris, he would tell you he’s dealing with it just fine. But I know better.
Here is what Bean says: “My underwear showed at school today and everyone laughed.”
Here is what Chris hears: “My underwear showed at school today and everyone started pointing and laughing and throwing things at me and calling me names and beating me with erasers. HOW WILL I EVER SURVIVE?!?!”
Here’s what actually happened: Bean bent over and his underwear showed so some of his classmates started laughing. Even Bean laughed. And when I asked him how he felt, he said he thought it was funny. I’m pretty sure it was not a traumatic experience for anyone. Except maybe Chris.
Here is what Chris hears: “After you dropped me off, I had to walk myself into school, fighting 5th grade bullies who were trying to steal my lunch money the entire way. And once I got into the building, I didn’t know where I was even though I go to school here every single day, and so I wandered around aimlessly, not sure what to do with my life and trying to avoid more big kids who are all out to stuff me into lockers that we don’t even have.”
Here is what actually happened: Bean has to walk into the building under a covered walkway LINED WITH TEACHERS AND STUDENTS. Chris isn’t allowed to take him inside. And even though this drop off isn’t ideal, it isn’t DANGEROUS, which I am pretty sure is what Chris believes.
Here is what Bean says: “I sat by myself at circle time today.”
Here is what Chris hears: “I sat by myself at circle time today because everyone hates me and even the teacher wouldn’t come talk to me, so I just sat there. Alone. Because no one loves me and I walk through my entire day without feeling love from anyone in my life other than you, Dad.”
Here is what actually happened: Bean likes to play by himself. He chooses to play alone about half of the time. Does he play well with other kids? Absolutely. But the introvert in him needs that time alone sometimes.
Chris is just waiting for something traumatic or awful to happen to Bean. He’s LOOKING for it. Everyday Bean comes home from school, Chris tries to nonchalantly grill him about the happenings of his day. Who did he play with? Who didn’t he play with? Did he not play with them by choice? Did anyone get in trouble at school today? Did they get in trouble for hurting Bean’s feelings?
And every day, Bean nonchalantly responds while not even looking up from whatever he is doing with noncommittal grunts, “Uh huh,” or “Yeah, sure,” or “I dunno.” I swear, if I didn’t know any better, I would think Bean was TRYING to stress Chris out! He gives him absolutely ZERO information during these conversations, and it drives Chris crazy!
Chris says I am more laid back about it because I work in a school setting, and he thinks that’s jaded me into not worrying when I should be worried. But I don’t think that’s true. To a certain extent, I am more aware of how a school operates on a day-to-day basis than Chris is, but I think it’s more about personality types. Chris really likes to be in the know. He doesn’t like for lots of things to be going on without his knowledge. And I think that’s killing him right now. He just doesn’t KNOW what goes on in Bean’s day. So, in his head, we are just letting him go with a bunch of random STRANGERS. But I know that these people might seem distant to us, but they are part of Bean’s everyday world.
Which is the REAL problem for Chris. It is really difficult to accept that your kids’ whole world now includes things that you aren’t a part of. And that part is hard for me to accept, too. He has friends we don’t know, teachers throughout the day for art, PE, music, etc. that we don’t know, he reads books that we don’t read, he learns things that we don’t teach him. His world is growing. And, as healthy as that is, it’s killing Chris.
Oh, how I love that man and his protective, big heart.
Photo Credit: Jenn Hopkins Photography