Wednesday was the first day of school. Quite a day. Thing 1 has been pretty neutral about school starting up again. The only thing she was really looking forward to was seeing her 2nd grade teacher, Mr. C again. She wasn't really thinking so much about going into 3rd Grade, it didn't seem to be occupying her attention so much.
Giving the dog a hug goodbye, all ready to walk out the door to our first day of school!
We dropped off Thing 2 first, so Thing 1 could get a hug from her favorite teacher, now Thing 2's teacher.
Thing 2 has been floating so high, planning what she'll wear the first couple of days, how great it will be at recess, she is excited about school lunch, and she is deciding who is going to be interesting to meet based solely on their names, "Roger sounds interesting. And Hunter! I wonder if he hunts. I can't wait to meet them!" Going into 1st Grade from Kindergarten, and now into 2nd Grade from first, Thing 2 has been one of only a few kids (mostly boys) from her previous class that end up together. So every year is like moving to a new school, where she hardly knows anyone. There are three classes each year, you would expect that 1/3rd of her previous classmates would end up with her, but no. Only her and one other boy from their kindergarten class were in the same 1st grade class, and this year one other girl and two boys from 1st grade are in her 2nd grade class. But she was undaunted. She has Mr. C, Thing 1's favorite teacher in the world. Everything will be wonderful. She has been so excited, there was nowhere to go but down.
See that face? That is a happy girl! She is ready for school! Ready to learn! She has the world by the tail!
Thing 1 met her teacher, who will be great and I am pleased about.
When I met them after school yesterday of course I could tell immediately that Thing 2 was not happy. She was quite subdued, not normal for her. No, she did not have a good first day. But she didn't say too much. Thing 1 was her usual even-tempered self. Yes, her day was fine. The best part was reading, she was asked to bring a book from home to read and she's reading the 2nd of the "My Father's Dragon" books and loves them.
We walk in our front door and Thing 2 disappears. I found her on the family room couch crying. In a nutshell her laments are:
1) No one likes her.
2) Anyone who might like her is already paired up with someone they know from kindergarten or first grade.
3) All her friends from last year are in one of the two other 2nd grade classes.
4) Mr. C is NOT NICE. He is MEAN. He's mean? Well, maybe not mean, but he's certainly not what she expected. Sure, he told a few jokes, that was the best part of her day... but in between he was not nice.
5) She was the last one to sit down at lunch and there was no room at her assigned table. She had to carry her lunch tray around until she found Mr. C, he came to their class table and had everyone scoot together to make room for her. But she was HUMILIATED that she had to walk around carrying her tray and no one made room for her until forced to.
Horrible, horrible, horrible, it was just horrible. And she certainly didn't want to go back. Ever. And, furthermore, she has to share a locker. With whom? She doesn't know, some wild boy ran up to her and wanted to share her locker and was so excited to share her locker and since he wanted to so badly she said fine, whatever. Who is this boy? She doesn't know, can't remember his name. Horrible horrible horrible the whole day was horrible.
I held her while she cried, and told me her sort of jumbled myopic replay of some of the more painful moments of her day. While I know that just being held while she cried was mostly what she was looking for, I couldn't help trying to help just a little, and I pointed out that no one will want to play with her at recess if she's walking around moping, she should jump rope, or play hopscotch, or do something fun by her self, and maybe someone else will want to play with her. She insisted she hadn't been moping, she demonstrated her "I'm happily looking for someone to play with!" expression. So we talked about this a little, and I cited several examples from her own past about girls she had been friends with at the first part of 1st grade but things had cooled within a couple of months, and things will change, but mostly she concluded she doesn't like jumping rope or hopscotch that much, and whatever solution I tried to propose she'd just counter with the "No one likes me!" and more tears. I hate watching her face screw up and the tears squeezing out...
It just so happened that yesterday two packages arrived for the girls, one was the ants (for the ant farm we gave Thing 1 for her birthday nearly a year ago) that I finally ordered, and the other contained caterpillars (for the butterfly cage they received two Christmases ago) that I finally ordered. (On-the-ballness has never been a virtue I have been overly troubled with.) But both insect packages arrived and we got to look at the caterpillars (who will stay in their little environmentally complete cups until they go into chrysalises) and we dumped the ants into their cage. That was thrilling, the girls were very excited, and the horribleness of the day was put aside.
I should break here, and finish in another post. But I'm just going to push through.
This morning I did my best to launch the girls on a good start to their day. I had noticed as I comforted her yesterday that Thing 2 needed a bath, but we got in late last night so they HAD to have one this morning. This is usually a recipe for hurrying and rushing and me getting tense and all of us being late, but I got up early and got them in the bath early, and they were downstairs clean and dressed and ready for breakfast early. They ate quickly, and we were ready to walk out the door about 10 minutes early. I made a massive fuss about how fabulous they are, how quickly yet calmly they performed the morning routine, how speedy they were in the bath, and how amazingly early we were. We practiced our silly walks to the door. We strolled to school, examining each interesting bug and flower that we passed and still arrived several minutes early.
I am a lousy housekeeper, an unenthusiastic cook, and I fail as a gardener. I wonder why I get to be a stay at home mom, because in many ways I'm terrible at so many of the aspects involved. I have many many failings, BUT I can be a great cheerleader. (Or so I like to believe. If you disagree please keep your opinions to yourself as I need to feel like there's at least one thing at which I excel.) I did everything short of donning a miniskirt and waving pompoms. I made it very clear that they had an amazing morning under their belts.
We took the dog to school, and instead of standing up at the edge of the school ground to kiss them goodbye, I brought the dog down the stairs to the playground where the kindergarten and 1st grade kids play and wait for the bell to ring. The dog and I accompanied them down the sidewalk past the 1st grade door to the 2nd grade door, where there was a clump of kids waiting for the bell to ring so they could go in the school. I don't normally do this because I am very aware that not all little kids like dogs, and even some that do are daunted by a huge beast who can nearly look them in the eye. I took him on a short leash, with the intent of bringing our handsome, sweet, huge, furry, attention-grabbing dog to the door where perhaps some of Thing 2's classmates will see him, become interested in him and this will translate to someone becoming interested in her. Maybe they will find they have something to talk to her about, and will look upon her in a more favorable light. I am nothing if not calculating. I plan to do this until she tells me she has a friend.
So I was on pins and needles today, to see how School Day #2 went. As I was waiting for the final bell to ring, another mother whose son was a friend of Thing 2's from kindergarten walks by and says Thing 2 and her son are sharing a locker. Really? Your son, who I KNOW Thing 2 knows is the pushy mystery boy who insisted they be locker buddies, whose name she completely forgot?
And Thing 2 comes bouncing over to where I always stand and announces today was great, everything is good. Did you make a friend? No, but she had a great time at recess doing the monkey bars, now she can traverse them hand over hand hanging from the bottom. Wahooo! Did you sit by anyone at lunch? Not at first, because she was toward the beginning of the line and everyone came and sat down around her when they got their food this time and school lunch was Chili with hot sauce! They have great chili! And she is one of the only ones who takes hers with hot sauce, the other kids are complete hot sauce wimps! I do not know where her hot sauce superiority stems from, but at this point I'm not going to argue with her that liking or not liking hot sauce doesn't make you a better or worse person. I'm just thrilled she's thrilled. Mr. C was much better today, he was hilarious and she has math homework, just one page and she knows how to do it and is excited to demonstrate her knowledge and this was a great day! I told her I had just talked to her locker buddy's mom, and was surprised she hadn't told me it was her friend from kindergarten. She said oh, yeah, she'd just spaced off his name. It's fine.
I should know better than to worry too much about her. As low as she will be one day, she'll probably be that high or higher the next. I hope I can help her navigate her roller coaster.