It's been months.
I have more free time, thanks to Young Living... you'd think I'd be a responsible blog author and write often.
It's on my list of "things to resolve."
So you know how when you're a parent, your child's pain is your pain? Your child's victories are your victories? And so on?
My two older kids are getting to that age where I've had to reign in the mama bear, cage her and calm down. Example: At a five year old's soccer game, don't make comments about "the kid who isn't running as fast as the others." Because that kid is mine. And caging the mama bear is difficult. I picture myself with a finger in the offenders face, going off about how these are KIDS. And who gives a flying whatever who wins? Or who can run the fastest, etc. They're FIVE. Thankfully for all involved, I've withheld my inner Saturday soccer dialog.
One of the largest parenting obstacles I've yet to accomplish (gracefully) is evolving WITH my kids. Because as soon as I get comfortable with one stage, they're moving on to a completely different one. Like, Maeve- what in the world? Weren't we happy when you were four, and ice cream fixed everything? And you didn't know what hurt feelings were? Or the evilness that we call math?
Kids grow. And things that once made their world complete, don't hold a spot in their new phase of life.
As parents, it's comfortable- feels WONDERFUL- to keep your kids close, protected. Using your body as a literal human shield from what can happen "out there."
But because we want the best for our kids, we peal that layer of connection off and as gently as possible, toss them into the water. Swim kids, swim! Don't sink!
This year has been full of swimming lessons. Henry is in school full time, at what I think, is the best school in St. Johns county. He has teachers that love him; that accept him for who he is. They understand he's sensitive, and he scares easily. They know he loves pirates, tree houses, and couldn't care less about "staying in the lines." When he brings his art work home it's usually a "mess" of black crayon; although he can explain exactly what's going on in the picture.
Unfortunately his VPK program is just that- VPK. It ends there. Meaning, Henry needs to readjust to another school. Sigh There goes another layer of protection.
We have been incredibly blessed with our business adventure- or whatever you want to call Young Living; like VERY blessed. And the opportunity came up to send our kids to a private Latin school, that is truly wonderful. It's small, everyone is on a first name basis (or because we're in the south a "Miss Suzie" name basis) -side note it really doesn't matter how old you are- everyone is "Miss" or "Mister." I sort of love it.
A few weeks ago Ryan and I toured the school; it felt like my favorite "Hello" sweatshirt. Worn in, familiar, perfectly fitting. We left feeling a few things: 1- "This is like a dream school- how have we been given the opportunity to actually DO this?" 2- Peaceful. Our kids would be loved; a name, not a number. 3- have you seen the episode of "Full House" where Uncle Jessie & Aunt Becky take the twins to be evaluated at that high end preschool? We felt like that too.
Visions of plaid uniforms, knee socks, and my kids practicing Latin danced in my head.
Maeve went in for her evaluation first. And as per usual, Maeve, our perfectionist, did her thing and is ready for second grade, testing much higher in several areas. Maeve- check. Set, boom.
Henry's turn was a little different.
They're different kids; duh.
Henry is a creature of habit. He loves routine. He is nervous, shy, and unsure of anything new. He won't watch "Monsters Inc" because he doesn't like to see the kids crying. In one word, this kid is sensitive. I knew the day would be a challenge for him because he doesn't adapt as easily as Maeve. He had NO interest in meeting a new teacher, or new kids. He wanted Miss Kim and Patric. He wanted the halls of Memorial Lutheran. And he gripped my hand as I dragged him into his new school for the evaluation.
There are few things worse than pealing your child off you, and leaving. Your entire mommy/daddy instinct is saying "GET THAT CHILD! Scoop him up, and rock him!" But instead, you get in your car, mind racing through all of the scenarios that could happen; "Is he going to cry? Is he going to talk? Will I get a call saying he's in the corner of the room having a melt down?"
I didn't get a call. (Thank God) And when I picked him up he was shooting baskets (well, throwing the ball in the general direction of the hoop). He looked happy. He looked like one of them. Exhale the breath I'd been holding in all day.
According to Henry, the day went great. He made me a mothers day present and "circled all the right things." He met friends, but didn't know their names, and he wants to play basketball again. SUCCESS!
Yesterday I got a call, asking to come into the new school, so we could talk about Henry. I know he has handwriting issues and focusing "problems" (although what 5 year old doesn't?). But I wasn't prepared for what I was told.
Henry didn't pass his kindergarten entry exam. As we went through his test, I saw words circled and spelled backwards. For example, he was supposed to circle the matching word for SOAP- he circled PAOS. My heart sunk.
As we flipped to the last page of the test, it was a blank, white page- the directions were to draw yourself. Henry had drawn a head, two eyes and limbs. No mouth, no hair, no clothes, basically no detail.
The principal explained to me that when a child is ready for kindergarten, their pictures are much more detailed. And that Henry's picture (obviously) lacked that.
I nodded, took notes, and talked about our options. Repeating VPK, pushing him ahead and struggling, not knowing if he's ready or not; the familiar feeling of shedding that layer of protection started to crack and all I wanted to do, was find Henry and tell him how amazing he is. No matter what- repeating VPK or whatever- it doesn't matter. He's mine, and he's the best.
As soon as I left the meeting, I called Ryan. He had the same reaction- how? Henry is going to be SIX. A six year old in VPK??? My heart ached for him and my mind raced through the years; he'll be the 17 year old freshman in high school...omg.
I came home, feeling like we had failed him. And it had to be MY fault, because mothers are martyrs by nature. I happen to be an exceptional one (and that's not a good thing). I had it in my head that something I had done during my pregnancy- like eating hot dogs, or taking too hot of a bath had caused this earth shattering catastrophe. (I hope you're getting my sarcasm here).
Earth shattering catastrophe- my child having to repeat VPK. I'm also very dramatic.
I let my mind spend the day in that useless, black hole of doubts and what ifs.
And then I got a phone call from Miss Linda. The only time Miss Linda calls is when Henry is sick- but she was quick to say, "Everything is fine with Henry."
Miss Linda is the principal of Henry's VPK program. He adores her.
I'll probably mess this conversation all up, but here's what the call was about:
Miss Linda: "Ashley, I just wanted to see if I could get your permission on something."
Me: "Oh, yeah- what is it?"
Miss Linda: "Well we were talking about our favorite bible stories yesterday and Henry told me his was when Jesus died on the cross."
(I'm thinking in my head.... omg my kid is obsessed with death or something).
Miss Linda went onto say that he drew her a picture, and it was so touching, she wanted to share it on facebook.
My mouth DROPPED. This was the same day I was told Henry lacked the "detailed" drawing gene or whatever it is.
I'm a complete mom-mess, so I had tears and the whole bit. But listening to Miss Linda explain Henry's picture and his story, was exactly what I needed at that precise moment.
As soon as the picture was posted on facebook, I screen shot it, and stared at it.
It was full of detail. Full of HENRY. Full of love.
My heart shed a few layers of the thick protection it had grown since hearing Henry hadn't passed his Kindergarten test.
This boy, MY boy, is Henry Ryan McKenney.
He is smart, and loving. He's sensitive and a bit obsessive. He's beautiful and clearly has Jesus in his heart.
What possibly more could I ask for?
The veil of disappointment lifted and it was completely clear; Henry's ready for kindergarten. He may not fit the typical mold, but he's ready in his own way. And I know this. Because I have a mama gut instinct.
He's going to be reevaluated over the summer, and strangely, I'm not nervous at all. Regardless of the outcome, I know who he is. And he's brilliant. One of a kind. He's my boy. If the state of Florida says he's not ready for Kindergarten, so what? He's still Henry. And Henry is full of love, and sweetness, and most importantly the Lord.
My mama gut is working, and that's a good thing. For some reason it had abandoned me yesterday; I doubted myself, and Henry.
Parenting is like a constant hands on experiment. You don't get a reprieve. You don't get do- overs. You just have to believe; have faith in yourself and your kid. Taking leaps, trusting others with your second heartbeats- trusting they'll hold their hearts like you do, seeing them for the amazing miracles they are.
No matter what the world says, maintain that iron gut. We we're given it for a reason.
And to Henry-
As your mama, I will always, ALWAYS believe in you. You and your sisters are the reason my heart beats. Doubt won't be a word in this family. You are one of a kind. You're going to walk your own path. And it will be a great one. You are ours. And I couldn't feel more blessed to call you mine. You brilliant, loving boy.... you are our joy.