Always Real, Antique Childhood, Makes Me Sigh, School

School Dazed

The last time I wrote here, Sean and I were coming to the end of his of first grade year of school.  I say “Sean and I”  because, really, it was not just his first grade – it occupied a large share of my time and my thinking and my emotional space too.  It was my first grade experience by proxy; a much needed do-over of sorts for me.

It seemed to me that first grade would be a pivotal point in Sean’s academic career.  In that first school year, he would either decide school was a good thing or not a good thing, and it would have everything to do with his teacher.

I had a sour, joyless and surly nun for first grade named Sister Edwina.  I decided early on in that first grade year that school was an exercise in misery.  That’s a rotten way for a six-year-old to spend seven hours of a day, hating it.  Thereafter, I pretty much hated school and I was a cruddy student with a cruddy attitude and the grades to prove it.  All that changed when I was 30 and became a professional student, but I don’t want that for Sean.

For Sean, I wanted a teacher who would make him toe the line in terms of behavior, as we do at home. I wanted a teacher who would appreciate his creativity.  I wanted a teacher who would not allow him to get away with doing the least, as he is wont to do.  I wanted a teacher who wanted to be a teacher, whose nature it was to be happy.  And, as important as anything else, I wanted a teacher who would not make me feel like “that mom” or a big fat bother any time I had a question or an issue.

We got the teacher for which we prayed. She was Sean’s advocate, and for me, she was an encourager and adviser and even a friend.  It was a terrific first grade year that came and went in a flurry of papers and projects and lunches and parties and jackets lost and found.

And now, here we are at the top of the second grade school year and I’m still having trouble saying second grade instead of first grade and Ms. W. instead of Ms. S.  And by the grace of God and the awesome ladies who run the school, Sean was assigned a second grade teacher who is picking up right where the first grade teacher left off and we are off and running on our way to another exciting write-it-all-down-in-your-diary kind of school year.

One of my favorite quotes is that education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire, and thus far, all of Sean’s teachers have been pyromaniacs.  May it ever be so.  I’m sure it won’t ever be so, but may it ever be so at least until his learning spirit can’t be easily broken.

The other morning, Sean got up and got dressed for school and came to the breakfast bar for the most important meal of the day.  I asked him if he had had any dreams.  He said he knows that he has dreams, but that he never remembers them.

I stood on the other side of the bar wringing a dish towel in my hands for no reason and watched him eat his toast.  I noticed the jelly marking the corners of his mouth and how he is still unable to resist the urge to use his shirt for a napkin.  In the haze of a morning-minded fog, I saw not a long-legged soccer-playing second-grader, but my kindergartner, the one I could still carry on my hip, the one I picked up from school at 1pm and took with me to the grocery store in the afternoon.

“As soon as I open my eyes,” he said, “the dreams rush out of my mind, like the tide, and I can’t catch them.”

I loved how he said that, loved the imagery.

I thought about how that is exactly how it is with each passing school year – dream like and slow motion and mixed up when you’re in the middle of it, and then before you know it,  it rushes away and you can’t hold onto it.   And when you look back, even from a short distance, you don’t really remember it.

You just know it was.


excels at soccer, second grade and being seven

46 thoughts on “School Dazed

  1. I third what Big mama and Pam said. I’ve missed your writing. And Sean? How is it that he looks so much more grown up. Those eyes and those freckles – adorable! Glad you’re back!

  2. So glad to hear from you once again!! An enthusiastic and engaging teacher is a real blessing. I do hope Sean continues to be so lucky.

  3. What a treat to pop by your blog and see a new post! So glad that second grade is off to a great start.

    Sean is looking so big… and is wise beyond his years.

  4. Sigh. Lovely and true. Slow and fast. I’m more aware than ever as my oldest son is almost 18. As this year and next will be years of “lasts.” Enjoy and be immersed in the moment. Wonderful reminder. 😀

  5. I have missed you! As our little one is due in about 10 days, I am so grateful for all mommy insights…thanks for this timely and awesome post. It has encouraged me to enjoy every moment of this sweet time in my life. Thanks so much!

  6. Sean can write, too, with imagery like that. Every year kills me. August and May just break my heart. August as they fly away to a new grade, new teacher, new things, and May as we mark the milestone of that teacher and grade passing.

    Just some assurance: as you know, we have always been a public school family. We never requested teachers, though it was honored at my kids’ elementary school and I came to where I had my preferences. We, too, prayed that God would provide the teacher that they needed over the teacher that we wanted — and He never failed. Through elementary school we had some amazing teachers, with just enough difficult teachers thrown in to let them understand that sometimes you just have to work to get along with people. And those worked out okay, too.

    Middle school and now high school aren’t quite as glowing, but with the amazing foundation that was laid in elementary, they are doing great.

    * * *
    Yes, I know at some point we will get a less-than-terrific teacher, and there is value in learning to get along with people. What my course of action will be at that point will depend upon many things. On the other hand, I would not put up with a less-than-terrific doctor, or a sloppy accountant, so why would I put up with a sub-par teacher? All professionals with a lot at stake, no? Food for thought. nom nom nom…..

  7. I’m so thankful Sean has had amazing teachers. I also had a miserable first grade teacher and to this day have distinct, miserable memories. Loved hearing from you again!

  8. Welcome back!! Your last paragraph was absolute perfection. I just love your gift with words and how wonderful that Sean has your talent.

  9. You sure are missed, my dear. Don’t make us wait so long next time!

    I loved Sarah S’s comment because my thoughts pretty much echo hers. There is a lot of education to be had in the “getting along” process, I think. But I liked your comment underneath too. Food for thought, indeed. The way I looked at those less-than-perfect teachers was, “Well, it’s only 1/12th of their education. They’ll be fine.” Maybe that isn’t the best way to look at it, but so far it’s worked out. (And Sarah S. is right about the middle school bit. You just have to hold on for dear life.)

  10. As the daughter of two school teachers, I know that teachers also pray for a class full of Seans who love to learn and for the mommies who teach them good manners. My mom says that a child who loves that “ah-ha!” moment as much as she does makes it all worth while.

  11. I can not express the pure joy of reading your blog again! I am so happy you are back. You are *back*, aren’t you?

    So happy that Sean enjoys school. It makes a huge difference.

  12. I’ve missed your writing!

    Today my daughter came home in tears because her lovely lovely 2nd grade teacher is leaving (moving away from the area). I think they should have a rule, that 2nd grade teachers can’t do that (the good ones, at any rate).

    * * *
    That would be a good rule. Wish I had a “like” button for your comment.

  13. I was thinking about you a few days ago. (yes, I am a total stranger more than 1500 miles away…so it should be safe,lol). I saw your blogaddress in my google reader and wondered if you had completly quit blogging.
    Good to hear from you again. I’m glad Sean’s first year went well, and his second is off to a good start. It seems he may have your gift of creating pictures with words. I love the picture too, his eye is the color of that ocean tide. thanks for sharing :o)

  14. Oh how I’ve missed you. It seems as though Sean has the same magical skills with words that you possess. “…the dreams rush out of my mind, like the tide…” such beautiful imagery.

    In our house we say a gale force wind has taken hold of our calendar pages and we cannot stop them from flipping from month to month as our children speed through life. Such is life with parenting.

    Your post, as always, prompts me to get back to my own blog which has sat mostly neglected for about a year.

    Best wishes for second grade. It’s going to be great.

  15. You have no idea how happy it made me to see a notice in my e-mail telling me there was a new post up.

    What a wonderfully post. What a smart boy Sean is. Love what he said about dreams. And you are right. Childhood is just like that. Well memories are just like that. Even the ones where you think, I will never forget this. Most often we do.

    Sean looks so grown up in that picture. Love that shot!

  16. Well hey! Welcome back. You have been missed as you can tell from the comments. Your Sean is adorable and has your gift with words…praying for a great Second grade 🙂

  17. Hi, Tina! Great to hear from you! Sean is awesome. Kids say the most original things. It’s one of my favorite parts of being with them.

  18. So glad you are writing again! Sean looks so grown up in this picture compared to the last one you posted. I’m also glad you are enjoying him so much. My baby is 19 now; the years have flown by so quickly. I enjoyed him, and I still am enjoying him, but it’s so different when they are (almost!) grown men than when they are second graders! All the best to you in second grade! …and to Sean too! 😉

  19. So good to hear from you again and hear about Sean’s positive experiences in school. What beautiful blue eyes he has. Great photo.

  20. Happy to see you writing again! I was hoping that your blog pause was a result of enjoying a wonderful summer with AD and Sean. Glad he’s starting off to a great year in second grade.

  21. I was just the other day wondering where you’ve been, and hoping everything was ok. So glad to hear from you again! And I think it’s great that he’s having a wonderful school experience. I’m sure he gets his way with words from you.

  22. SO happy to see you, well, “hear” you again! I was about to send out a search party! Glad the school year has started out great! Dread the years of worrying about getting a great teacher! My daughter will be 4 next month, so we won’t start kindergarten for 2 years. So far, her preschool teachers have been great!

  23. We just had our last, first day of school at our house…. Keep hearing Mamma Mia’s “Slipping Through My Fingers” on auto replay in my mind…..

  24. Oh, I am so glad to hear he has another pyro. As ever, you stated my experience so eloquently. Love the pic and just wondering….have you heard Chris LeDoux’s blue eyes and freckles? :wub:

    Have a great 2nd grade year!

  25. As you can see you have been MISSED…I know you needed time off but we all miss you and hearing about that BLUE EYED Sweet thing. He has become a part of our life you know and we kind of worry alittle bit about him .Keep up the great work.

  26. I’m taking a deep breath and enjoying every word of your writing. I have a 3rd grader this year (gasp!). Like you, I too, am a antique mommy, not by my choice, but but God’s wonderful design. The years are tumbling by so quickly and I see those little changes and hints of maturity and it is heartache-ingly bittersweet. With even that “glimpse” of a pic of your son I can see how much he’s grown up. Blessings to you!

  27. I just came across your blog at the recommendation of a friend. I too am an “antique mommy.” I was surprised and overjoyed to learn I was pregnant for the first time at age 43, and Cooper was born 3 days after my 44th birthday. That was nearly a year ago, and I am loving motherhood, even though I fall into bed most nights after chasing an active almost-toddler all day. I’m glad to find someone who can relate!

    * * *
    Oh glory, you have no idea how much wonderful you are in for — you are living in the sweet spot!

    Just Two Wonderful

  28. So glad you’re back! I love your blog, and like usual, I got a big ‘ole lump in my throat with this post! They grow up soo fast.

  29. It was like a wonderful unexpected gift to find the notification of your posting in my mailbox. So glad you are savoring the moments you have with Sean as the time does fly by. Nice to know you will still drop in from time to time and let us know that all is well.

  30. So glad to read you again – you used to be my first port of call when I logged on. I’m sure I was not the only person worrying about you midst all the gloom here in the UK and in America.

  31. As I was TEACHING today, my friend sent me an e-mail quoting your blog post!!!! I was so excited. And I needed that reminder today–the one where I GET to set kids on fire in my job. 🙂

  32. I missed you! I read your “mom-hair” post in Good Housekeeping and wondered when you would be back.
    My little one started kinder this year. He misses me and I miss him. I want him to love school even if I’m not there. He likes it, but I’m not sure if he loves it yet.

  33. Yay, you’re back! Hello! Hope you had a fabulous summer with your guys. Wow, has Sean ever got gorgeous eyes and I love those freckles! What a way with words he has, and I’d dearly love to have a conversation with your charming boy. I hope you both have a wonderful school year.

  34. Like your boy, I had a good first grade experience. In clearing out my mother’s house, my wife ran across an old newspaper clipping. In it was a VERY young bill and a blond lady.

    “Who’s that,” she asked.

    And I answered, “Her name is Miss Childs. She may be married now, but she will always and forever be Miss Childs. She’s about two hundred feet talk, walks on water, parts the seas, and can command the winds.”

    She blinked.

    “She gave me the keys to the kingdom – she taught me to READ.”

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