For many people back to school time is a time of great opportunity. Kids have grown up over the summer and there are new possibilities and new achievements to conquer in the new classroom. Of course everyone is a bit nervous at first but the kids settle in quickly to the new routine and love their new teacher as if he/she is the only teacher they’ve ever had. And then, a few weeks into the year everyone gathers at “Back to School Night” and you get to hear about all of the wonderful things the students are already learning. You get to see cute projects that they’ve already done and see how much they will grow and learn over the year. It is a happy time full of promise.
But not for all of us.
For me, Back to School Night sends me straight to the bar for a stiff drink. I walk into the classroom and I immediately know which work belongs to my son. It is the ONE picture in the class that is still done in scribbles and the handwriting is barely legible. So while all the parents around me are swooning over the cute picture their child drew of the family and the four chapter book their son wrote about how much they love first grade, I sit quietly and feel inferior. Then the teacher starts to speak. She talks about all of the new things they will be learning over the year and how by the time they leave her in June they will all be fluent readers and mathematicians. My anxiety rises as I consider that my son still hasn’t mastered last year’s material. How is he ever going to survive?
Inevitably, one parent will ask what the teacher is going to do to make sure the children continue to feel challenged since their child is already coming home indicating that the work is too easy and he or she is bored. Meanwhile my son is overwhelmed at every turn. And my worry overcomes me.
The truth is that my son has come a long way. He is learning in leaps and bounds and I am so proud of him for all he has already overcome. The problem is that all of the others kids are growing and learning in leaps and bounds too. How will he ever close the gap? Will he ever catch up? Will I ever walk into a room and have a difficult time determining his work because it looks just as polished as the others? Sometimes I wish I could press the pause button for the other kids in the class. I want everyone else to stop and let my son keep working until he catches up. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t wish other kids ill will. I just want my son to get into a B
ack to the Future Delorean and zoom to his potential …and do it fast.
Because I think of how disillusioned I feel when I walk into the classroom for Back to School Night and it hits me: He feels that way every day of his life. And so the hard work continues but perhaps after another stiff drink…