There was zero chance that this week would go smoothly for Carlos. Too much change happening at once. He’s moving up and moving on from the school he has attended since he was 3 months old. He started off cranky today and it went downhill from there.
And if I’m being honest, I’m having some trouble with my feelings, too. Neither of us handles change very easily. Each time he has moved rooms–from babies to crawlers to walkers to twos to big kids–my heart has clenched up in fear that he’s going to hit a bad spot and fail to thrive.
He’s reached the end of the hallway–his time at this school is ending. It really hit me yesterday. The teachers are switching out the door decorations and the displays in the hall. Time for a “back to school” theme with a tree and a basket of apples under the tree, with each kid’s name done in glitter on the construction paper apple. Carlos’ apple was tucked in his cubby, brand new and never to be hung on the wall.
He’s switching all the way to pre-K. We both are. I’m going to miss these kids so much. There’s Addy, who has been my friend since the day I saw her through her tears. There’s Sid, the Christmas Kid. Maggie who gives me hugs every day. Patrick and William and Magnus and Jonathan and Crawford–a pack of little blond boys who are hard to tell apart. Bailey and Emmie and Arly and Alya, who all want to be Elsa. Charlie, who reports to me every day whether Carlos has behaved himself.
Carlos and I were both out of sorts today when we arrived. I think it showed, because when Addy turned to wave at me, she said, “Hi! Your hair looks pretty today! Hi! You look pretty! Hi!”
The kids were coloring starfish and shells, ready to make a sandy scene on some ocean blue paper. Except for Carlos. He yelled and curled into a ball. The noise startled him and I think he was mad that it wasn’t outside time. I tried to cajole him, convince him, persuade him to sit in his seat at the lady bug table and participate. He wasn’t having it. I rubbed his back while he flopped on the circle rug. I followed him to the trucks center and told him to join the group. Nope. Not happening. No way.
So I detached from the struggle and sat my own butt down in his tiny blue chair at the lady bug table. I handed out crayons and marveled over the lovely coloring that each child had done. Tiny, dark-eyed Alya showed me her careful purple starfish. I told her that purple is one of my favorite colors. Carlos came over to see what we were doing, but yelled when I spoke to him. I sighed and shook my head.
Alya caught my eye and said, “Carlos is being…very Carlosy today.”
Yes, yes he is. This class of kids is used to seeing my kid pitch a fit, throw a tantrum, melt it down. I’m sure some of them will be relieved that his noise will be somewhere else.
But he’s doing his best. He’s just…Carlosy. Thank you, tiny girl, for reminding me to see my son for himself. He’s being Carlosy and I was being too Ashleyish to remember that. Poor kid has A LOT going on. End of summer, linguistic leaps, new school, friends leaving. He’s still learning how to navigate the world of groups and sometimes coloring is just too much to ask.
We’ll get used to a new classroom and a new routine. I’ll make some friends among the new kids in pre-K and Carlos will too. We’ll both probably kick and fuss a bit and express our anxiety in different ways, but we’ll figure it out. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.