There are many things that are hard about being a mother: watching your kid climb out of the car in the morning and not even look back at you as they troop into school, worrying about them all day while they are away from you, deciding whether or not it's okay, just this once, to have oreos, grapes and milk for supper. I could go on all day, but instead, I'm going to tell you about a couple of hard things I'm experiencing right now.
1. Sick or Not? Last Friday, Brynna took the day off of school She told me her tummy hurt and she felt like she was going to throw up. She lied. The truth is that she probably needed to stay home from school. She spent most of the afternoon in my little brother's bed, so she was definitely more tired than usual and she did develop a scratchy throat later in the day. I like to think that this didn't develop into anything nasty in part because of that extra time in bed. I'm not sorry she stayed home, but I'm very sorry she lied to me. I don't really know how to handle this situation from here. We talked and I think she understands, but how do I trust the next time she tells me she's too sick for school? How do I determine for myself how sick she is?
And the thing is, she likes school. She, in fact, loves school. So, why did she do it in the first place? Just needed a break? Too tired to get moving? The world may never know, but I feel like I should.
2. Race Stuff... Thursday is Brynna's day in the school library. Each week they are allowed to check out a book to read for the week and bring back the following Thursday. Brynna takes this very seriously. She does not remove the book from her backpack, except for reading it and she is so conscientious about them. So much so, that I sometimes forget to look at what she's brought. Yesterday morning, I pulled out Whitewash by Ntozake Shange. I read it and started crying about halfway through. It's the story of a little African American girl, who, while walking home with her older brother is attacked by a white gang. The gang beats her brother and spray paints her face white. It speaks to the trauma this act causes the brother, the girl, the family and the entire community. It's a good book, I guess, the way Schindler's List is a good movie. I'm just not sure what to say to Brynna about it.
We've talked about race before. She asked me why it mattered that President Obama was black, and she's asked me about Martin Luther King Day and what that means. I've never lied, but I've never really told the whole story, either. How do you explain to a kid who sees so much beauty in "brown skin" the atrocities of racism and hatred. How do you explain all the little atrocities that serve to break people down.
I suppose, you do it with this book, at least in part. But, wow. I didn't want to do this now. I wasn't ready to talk about this. And I am not sure that I'll know what to say. I think I over explained drugs during red ribbon week. That's my tendency.
3. Grades... Brynna's teacher thinks she should be in Kindergarten. As she just turned six and is easily the youngest child in her class, no doubt some of you agree. I don't really care. She reads, she does math, she love science and complained to me because there's no geography in her new school. The way I look at it, she can be bored in Kindergarten or struggle in first grade, and I'd rather her not get bored. That said, it's hard to see those grades printed on that sheet and wonder if you're doing the right thing. Wonder if maybe this isn't so good, maybe it's too much, maybe she won't catch up. Also, also, she has a D which stands for "Developing Skill" and means below average in Art. Her favorite subject and also, what criteria is used to grade first grade art? Seriously. It's not like they are looking at composition and color usage. I have a nice long list of activities we can do at home to help, but we already have at least a half hour of homework every night.
I was so sure in my decision just a few days ago, and now, I'm just not sure. Not sure she's ready. Not sure I'm not screwing her up. Not sure.
Motherhood is hard, people. It is not for the faint of heart. But, I'm telling you, all you moms of cute, cuddly babies, trouble making toddlers and precocious preschoolers, motherhood is much, much harder when you throw the education system in the mix.