A constant challenge for me is balancing expectations with my kids.
In a perfect world, the same would be expected of both. That’s not our reality at this point with Carson’s unique special needs. That’s in part why, generally, I tend to underestimate Carson while setting expectations too high for Beckett. The end result is at times a confusing mess for me and probably unfairness for them.
A case in point with Carson came this week as he returned to school as a second grader. I was nauseous most of Tuesday based on the bumpy rides we have had with school and Carson in previous years.
The fact he woke up at 4:40 a.m. the first day and refused to go back to sleep only exacerbated those concerns. We were worried he was going to be exhausted during the school day and poor decisions and behavior issues would plague his day. At one point — it was probably around 5:30 in the morning amid desperate pleas for him to settle down and get some more rest — I decided he wasn’t going to school that first day. I didn’t want to start off on a bad note.
As she often does, Pam talked some sense into me after I had some coffee and wasn’t mired in the doldrums of four hours of sleep. He did eventually go to school and had a great first day in second grade.
Going to school was only one big change for him on this particular day. Over the summer, we tried out a few weeks of summer camp at Chesapeake Martial Arts (CMA). It was his first foray into camp world and there was a lot of apprehension, but CMA was wonderful to welcome him into their nurturing and professional program. Because he did so well, CMA invited him to enroll in the after-school program in which Carson would go to the facility after school, do his homework and participate in games and fun time.
I had my reservations. This was another time when Pam had to convince me we had to give Carson the opportunity to rise up and succeed. As was the case when it came to climbing steps by himself, riding a scooter and eating solid foods, she was right to force me to not pigeonhole him.
While it certainly could be called underestimating him, I prefer to think of it as wanting to protect him. I don’t want to put him in a setting where he will be uncomfortable and not able to function like the other kids. It’s an obligation I feel to protect him. Although Pam shares these same instincts, she is more adept at channeling those feelings.
In the end, we agreed he would do after-school care three days a week because he has speech therapy after school two other days. On the first day, we were there at school to greet him and see how his first day went. He gave me a quick slap on the hand and Pam a hug before reaching out for Miss Amber’s hand to lead him to the CMA van for transport from school.
That feeling of relief for a good day, especially after the early-morning awakening, and pride in seeing him once again dispel my concerns over new additions to his life was wonderful.
As far as Beckett goes, I was anxious for him to get back in the classroom. Our fourth grader had a wonderful summer of weekly day camps, indulging in field trips, constant fun and play and little to no school work. We were looking forward to the change in routine for him and anxious for school work to be assigned to get his mind working again.
Beckett is the kind of kid who must constantly be pushed. A lot of things come fairly easily to him in life and that at times makes him lazy. Because he rarely has been forced to work extremely hard in his short life, the thought of having to rise to a challenge and overcome something difficult is a new concept to him. When the going gets tough, he needs to learn he must work harder. That’s something we hope he learns over the next year.
Beckett’s first day was Wednesday, the day after Carson went back. On Tuesday, he had meet the teacher day and he had the chance to get acclimated with his new classroom and learn a little about the year ahead with his new teacher.
Later that night, he expressed that he was nervous for his first day at school. That’s a new feeling for him and I was glad to hear it. It’s a good thing to be pushed outside the comfort zone from time to time.
When I asked what he had anxiety about, he replied, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
That was surprising. I told him how I impressed I was that he wanted to put his best foot forward for his new teachers and that he just needed to use his manners, try hard and follow the rules.
The problem was I wrongly assumed he was talking about his new teachers for the school year. He made a few more comments that had me confused as to who he was talking about giving a good first impression in the first place. Something was not adding up.
When I asked him to explain, he responded, “I’m talking about Jake, the new kid in our class.”