Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cooper's 1st Day of Kindergarten

I've always been a light sleeper when I'm anticipating the next morning. My first day of kindergarten I woke up at way too early an hour. I sat at the top of the stairs at our home in Kentucky, looking at the light that came from the living room, and I heard the light noise of the morning news. I wondered  if I should stay at the top or make my way down. Excitement and anticipation won. Too dark to walk down safely, I scooted down the stairs on my bottom. My mom, sitting in the rocking chair, coffee in hand, looked at me in surprise and asked why I was already up. I don't remember the rest of that morning. I don't even remember the rest of that day. I do remember the excitement. The anticipation. I remember how big I felt.

Today was no different. I woke up at 5:30 and was unable to go back to sleep. Today was my boy's first day of kindergarten and I wanted to see his face when he woke up. Cooper is consistently an early riser. He's up between 6 and 6:30. So, wouldn't you know it that today was the day he decided he'd sleep in until 6:54! I waited as patiently as I could for him to wake up. He came down the stairs all smiles. "Hi big kindergartener" I said excitedly. He ran the rest of the way down and jumped onto the couch. Excitement filled his eyes. A smile spread wide across his face. "Mom, I've got to go to the bus stop." Ensuring him that we had plenty of time, he settled into an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks, his current favorite show.

Our morning progressed easily. A year of preschool helped with this part. We ate, we got dressed, we brushed our teeth and combed our hair. We did a devotion with him. We packed his lunch and readied his backpack upon his back. Each thing we did, you could tell he was excited. Nothing but smiles and giggles. After a few pictures on our front steps we all walked to the bus stop.  The bus stop is at the other end of our street, which gave us time to tell him we wanted him to be kind, to listen, and to have fun. I prayed for him on this walk. We got to the bus stop early. Let's make note of this now, because the rest of the year is sure not to follow suit. And because it's the first week of school, the bus was late. While we waited we spoke with another boy there, and watched Cooper wait in anticipation. He basically ran around the yard of the house we were standing in front of.

At one point I bent down and continued on with the last words I have chosen to be the last words I speak to him before school each morning. 
"You are kind. You are good. You are God's. Make wise choices." 
When we looked up from that moment, the bus came around the corner. As soon as it stopped, Cooper RAN to the bus. He was the first one on. After a few seconds for everyone to be seated, the bus drove away. Andrew and I walked away, smiling. A big part of my heart drove away in that yellow school bus. But today the sadness in my heart was replaced with a lot of hope and excitement.

Yesterday Cooper asked to go to the park. While we were there, he approached two boys and asked them if they wanted to play. He also decided yesterday was the day he would decide to pump his legs and swing by himself. I sat back in awe and cried. Yes, there...on the playground. I whispered thanks to God for that moment. I needed that moment to show me just how ready for kindergarten he is.

We did drive to school and met him when he got off the bus. We walked him into his classroom. We left him with smiles. Cooper Lee is SO ready. He's such a great kid, with such great passion and excitement for life. He has learned and grown so much during his time at home. Cooper is an extension of our LIGHT. It's time for him to practice let that light shown on his own now. He's going to do big things one day. This is a big part of that journey for him.

And in case you are wondering...Andrew and I went to a new breakfast place to celebrate!

I'm doing so great. No tears this morning. Only JOY. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

the emotion-crazy space before school

When I was a teacher, summer was a GLORIOUS time. It meant sleeping in, lounging, and throwing a schedule out the window. I think a lot of that mentality has crept over into my stay-at-home-mom summers. We toss out a schedule and replace it with a list of fun things to do. Every summer there are things we didn't cross off because we are too busy doing nothing with our days.

Every August there comes this point where the want for the schedule returns. In front of me stands a son who is becoming ever more cranky and undisciplined. We have to readjust the reigns and  start our path toward a more structured life at home. It's August now. The time for redirecting is upon us. It culminated tonight with disobedience, tears, and consequences. During bath time I started thinking of ways to get our home life more structured. I especially want a better pattern to be in place before school starts - just about 3 weeks left to set a different pace at home.

Speaking of three weeks left until school, I am currently living in this emotion-crazy space between trying to hold on to every last bit of baby boy that I can and pushing independence and wing-spreading. An emotion-crazy space of feeling like I've done enough and completely doubting everything I've done the past 5 years.

Most days are spent urging shoe-tying practice, bucking your own seat encouragement, and "don't give ups" and "I won't be there to do this for you at school" with pretty much every new skill we are learning. But THEN he walks into the kitchen, and says "mom, will you hold me?" and all the independence encouragement leaves me. My task stops and I do what he asks. I pick him up, and hold him for as long as he'll let me. I think back to when he was much smaller and easier to hold in my arms. In 3 weeks he'll be gone most of the day and he won't be interrupting my tasks asking me to hold him.

In these last few weeks before school I've started to doubt myself ... a lot. I keep telling myself I should have done more, I should have worked with him more on writing lowercase letters, I should have had him memorize some words, I should have encouraged independent play more, I should have done more projects, I should have instilled more (you name it), etc, etc, etc. Today these doubts crept into my mind while I was cleaning and I had to stop myself. I had to remind myself that it has been ok to let him play. He's a smart boy and will pick everything up this year so easily in school. I shouldn't worry about what his teacher will think when she finds out I used to teach kindergarten and my son doesn't write in lowercase letters. I should focus on the fact that my boy has been well loved and cared for the past 5 years.

I need to focus more on the fact that my boy loves to be held by his mama, and that he's going to school knowing he is LOVED.

Today I'm choosing to replace crazy emotions, doubts, and unscheduled craziness with love.
When he let me hold him in the kitchen, I had to take a picture to remember.

In the! I need ideas! How do your morning and evening routines work? What things do you have in place to make them easier? How do you create a welcoming and peaceful environment for your kiddos (and husband) during the school year?

Also, I have a feeling I'm not alone in these feelings. If you're with me, comment so we can be a community of encouragement.