My eldest son is going to his first day of first grade today.
The other night I had the mother of a kindergartener at my son’s school over for dinner. She was asking me how it all worked. “Did you pack a drink?” “Do they have microwaves?” “Do you walk the kids into the school?” “Have they ever forgotten to pick your kids up from afterschool?” For many of the questions I know the answers “No, they’ve never once forgotten my kids” but for others… “Grey!” I called. “What do you drink during snack time?” With the cool confidence of one who sees Kindergarten in the rear-view-mirror, he gave us the lowdown on how things were supposed to work, how things actually worked and how to optimize the Kindergarten snack-drink experience.
I suppose I should have few qualms sending him to first grade He’s academically prepared (hey, we even know where the over-the-summer homework is and it’s even done and it wasn’t all done this week! WIN!). He’s socially prepared, although he’s bummed that many of his friends are in the other first grade class. He’s confident. He’s looking forward to returning to school.
And oh, my friends, he is so very big and grown.
Those of you who have been reading for a long time remember me talking about being pregnant with little Alpha. You remember the “holy cow are they really letting me go home with this baby?!”. The toddler phase. The barfing phase. The preschool phase. Becoming a big brother. Reading. Becoming a fully fleshed person. Now I find myself gobsmacked by my son’s capability and confidence. When and how did he learn to do all these marvelous things he does?
For example, Grey earned $32 this summer feeding neighbors’ cats, watering plants, weeding gardens and bringing in the mail. I will confess that I still had a role to play (what can I say… he is too short to reach one mail box and one key is too hard for him to turn). But I sat on the porch and let him do his work for the most part. He and I had long conversations about this money he earned. I played payday lender and threatened to charge him a 10% daily interest rate if he really wanted to spend the money before he’d gotten it. He opted not to. We talked about giving a portion to the church. He owed his brother a portion for helping with the weeding. And finally, I took him down this week to create his very own savings account at the bank.*
We went camping this weekend, and Grey was a marvellous help. He helped his brother play Legos. He swam (head underwater and everything!) in the lake. He was reliable and dependable. He (GASP!) went to the bathroom all by himself. In possibly the most astonishing evolution of all, he also announced every night that he was tired and was heading to bed now, thankyouverymuch. And then… he did!
Grey still has his faults, for sure. There are still many things we have to teach him, beyond a doubt. But I am so proud of the person he is and the person he is becoming.
*As an aside, I am offended on his behalf about the kind of account we set up. Perhaps I should have done more investigation. He isn’t allowed to withdraw money from his own account until he is 21. What’s up with that? He could be drafted by the army to be sent to war when he’s 18. He can vote for our leaders. He would be convicted as an adult of any crime. But he can’t touch the money that he himself earned? That’s… shameful. I wanted to go to the bank we walk past all the time to give him a concrete connection to his money, but I dislike the account we set up immensely. I was also disappointed that they didn’t have any children’s financial literacy documents or anything.