Be still my breaking heart.
Something happened between excitedly gathering up school supplies and the reality that is now. What is that you say? A time bomb, that’s what. It buried itself deep within the heart of my son and erupted post-first-day of school.
Last year Kenny accompanied me to the girls’ school weekly. Each day I dropped them off I heard the same song, “When do IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII get to go to schooooooooooooooooool?” And each day I reminded him, “Next year son … in just a few more months.” Then, all summer long he told everyone he was going to Pre-K. PRE-K! PRE-K with Ms. Pam! I don’t know how many times he spoke those words, but I do know I never expected Pre-K to be the emotional affair that it has become.
On the first day of school his daddy and I walked him to the gym where all the students meet to say the pledge to the U.S. and Texas flags and then, the teachers whisk the Pre-K kids off to breakfast, just to make sure that there are no hungry children in the bunch. I was a mess, but Kenny seemed confident enough.
At the end of the first day, however, he didn’t have a lot to say. And you know, that isn’t terribly odd for him. He’s a lot like Jeff. He talks when he has something to say, but doesn’t have a need to fill up all empty air time with verbiage – that would be his sisters. So, as I pulled out of the parking lot I listened to the girls yap about the day and I happened to glance back in the rearview mirror and he was crying. CRYING! I thought surely he had hurt himself or perhaps he grew weary of waiting for a turn to talk himself, so I asked what was up.
He told me he didn’t like school. More probing unturned that a boy, we’ll call him G, had hit him. HIT MY SON. Seriously, is a mother’s wrath ever tempered? I came home and immediately wrote a note to the teacher inquiring about this “hitting” going on and coached Kenny how to respond next time.
Day 2 rolled around and he was a bit weepy in the morning. I dropped him and his sisters off and came home to work. When I picked him up from school he was really clingy. He cried a lot that night. He had wet his pants at school. He wet his bed that night. I knew there was some major adjustments going on. The next day I was less than attentive as it was the day I hit the bus. But the final day of school that week, as I walked him to the gym, he was a mess of tears. Not nervous tears or fake tears, but those kind that well up deep from within the body and pour out with shaking – yes those kind of tears.
I talked with his teacher – also a friend of ours from church. She asked me to give it just a bit longer before I made a decision to bring him back home.
This is taking its toll on him. I know he’s in a safe place. I know his teacher and he knows her. I know he’s beyond familiar with that school, but this adjustment is literally rolling into every avenue of his life – beyond just school. He isn’t his normal self. His response to nearly everything is buckets upon buckets of “big boy” tears
At church on Sunday he wouldn’t stay in his Sunday School class. He couldn’t. He literally couldn’t control his tears. Jeff took him to his adult Sunday School class with him. After praise and worship time he wouldn’t let me leave him at children’s church. Again with the tears. So, I decided to skip out on the service and took him with me to clean up my 1st-3rd grade Sunday School room.
I sat him down at a table with a white sheet of paper and a cup of markers and crayons and asked him to draw what he was afraid of at church and school. He set to drawing while I cleaned up the classroom. I had my camera with me (used it in the lesson that morning) and so I took a few pictures of my boy drawing his fears. Grabbing two Tootsie Roll Pops I sat across from him and we talked.
Me: “What is that you’re drawing?”
K: “A monster with 9 eyes.”
Me: “Wow, 9 eyes.”
K: “And wings.”
K: “One wing is bigger than the other.”
Me: “I see that.”
Me: “Kenny, do you believe in monsters?”
K: He looks at the paper a bit, pondering. “No.”
Me: “Why are you afraid of monsters then?”
K: “I’m not.”
Me: “What are you afraid of at school then?”
There was this long silence and then he looked up at me. I could see so much of Jeff in his face – such silent strength.
K: “Sometimes I cry when I don’t want to – like when we play the up and down game.”
Me: “Son, it is okay to cry – even when…”
K: “Because you’re not there.”
K: “That’s why.”
We talked about how the Lord’s hand never leaves him – even when Mommy is away. He drew a picture of himself and I drew a big hand cupping the boy to give him a visual of the protection he has in the Lord. We had a really good conversation during that time.
This morning was hard though.
Very, very hard.
I give it one more week and then he’s back home with me.
Pre-K shouldn’t be this hard.