Big Kid, Big Problems

Dear Alex,

You’re in kindergarten now– a big boy in a big school, and even at over a month into the school year it still blows me away every single morning when I drop you off and you confidently march up to the door all by yourself. Your teacher tells me that you have adjusted very well, are well-behaved and are way ahead of most other kids in your class academically. That much isn’t a surprise to me; you’ve shown us time and time again over the years just how sweet and brilliant you are. How lucky I am to call you mine.

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What did surprise me for the first time this morning, though, was a new kind of problem I haven’t dealt with explicitly as a parent yet. You told me that you don’t like music class…. and when I asked why you said that you get “embarrassed” when you have to go up in front of the other kids to play instruments (apparently it’s not just you by yourself, you guys take turns going up to do these little performances in small groups).

“Embarrased?” I asked, knowing perfectly well what the word meant and what you were probably getting at, but I wanted to hear your thought process. “Embarrassed” is an emotion I’ve of course seen you feel before, but not a word I’ve ever actually heard you say.

“I don’t want the other kids watching me! What if they see me mess up?!” you say, with panic in your eyes that are starting to well up tears.

Oh, my sweet boy. I tell you that everyone messes up sometimes, and that it’s okay. That messing up is how we learn. That the other kids won’t care if you mess up, and if they do care then they aren’t worth your energy and thoughts. I tell you an anecdote about a time the skirt of my costume fell off during a dance recital performance, and how I finished the dance with no skirt on and got a big round of applause from the audience. I watch you giggle as I tell you to imagine me on stage with my skirt falling off next time you have to play an instrument in music class. When I ask if that helps you feel better you say yes, with a bit of hesitancy and uncertainty on your face. And so we move on with our morning.

But my mama heart still hurts. We’ve entered the point in your life where I can’t really help you anymore. Now you have these big, more mature feelings and problems.  I can talk to you until I’m blue in the face– giving you advice and encouragement, but at the end of the day I can’t just step in and solve your problems anymore. Instead, I have to step back and watch you solve them yourself.

And even though I know you are smart and strong and will do just fine in this great big world, it’s still such a hard thing for me to do. Plus it will only get harder as the years go by and your challenges continue to mount.

For today though, I hug & kiss you one more time… then watch you walk away through those big metal doors.

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All my love,
Mom

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