Dante went back to school this week — first grade. The night before his first day, he got pretty upset. He said he felt like school would be really tiring. What could we say? It’s true. He said, “I feel like I could barely handle kindergarten.” In talking about it, we tried to focus on things that went well in kindergarten. Laura hit upon the idea of making it a game — we would each (all three of us) come up with three things that had gone well. He made friends. He gained new skills. He met teachers that he liked. He got to play in ways he hadn’t played before. He learned about things that fascinated him, and he got to do more with things he was already interested in. When it was his turn, we found him gravitating towards things that would be good this year. His new teacher has an ant farm he’s very interested in. There’s a “powers of ten” poster up in one of the first grade rooms, and he’s powerfully attracted to that. In his words, “it’s really cool.” In fact, he got so into the game that he asked us to expand it to five things each rather than three.
After the game was over, I gently made the point that he’s having nostalgia for kindergarten now, and all the things that happened there, but on his first day of kindergarten, he didn’t know any of those things were going to happen. I told him that starting a new school year was like starting a new job. It’s hard at first, because everything seems so new, but before long he’d get the hang of it, and begin to feel that sense of ease again. The process seemed to help. And in fact, his first week went pretty well, as far as I can determine. His teacher is attentive to the emotional side of things. They start each day with an exercise called “Shares, Cares, and Concerns,” which allows the kids to get out whatever they may have on their minds. (Dante came home and reported that he had a “Share”, which was: “A star is a sphere.” Eyeroll. He’s got a whole half-joking thing going on where whenever somebody draws or identifies a star shape, he insistently makes the point that stars are actually spherical balls of gas. It’s a behavior that’s sure to make him very popular.) When we’ve checked out his days overall, the reviews seem to be good.
It’s still tiring, though. Now his standard answer when anybody asks him, “How is school going?” is “You mean in terms of tiringness?” Because, see, it’s very tiring, he says. But otherwise: good.