Ben can't write. He knows all his letters. He knows all the sounds they make. He's just on the cusp of putting them together into words. He's discovered that adding or subtracting a letter can change things. He's fascinated by this. His enthusiasm makes my heart swell. I am thrilled with where he is cognitively. He's funny. And well mannered. And a people pleaser. And enthusiastic about everything. But he can't write.
He attempts to write B. E. N. on papers but it's pretty much illegible. He can't even trace B. e. n. with a modicum of success. He just can't. This has started to bother me. To cause me to worry. And that worry is making me angry. He's four.
And I want him to be four.
I don't want to care about whether his fine motor skills are going to give him trouble when he enters kindergarten next year. (Because I suspect they are.) I want him to explore what he is passionate about and nudge him gently towards things he may not be. I want him to sing songs and climb on rocks and read lots of books and color pictures and pretend to be a pirate for hours on end. I don't want him to sit at the table practicing writing his letters. He's not ready. Or maybe he is.
I'm not ready.
I'm not ready for the next phase. Where they started getting rated by what they can and cannot do. Where words like "behind" and "struggling" and "needs extra help" enter our vocabulary. Again.
Allison's having a difficult time in school. I have alluded to this several times before. I won't go into details but let's just say she's in 7th grade. And her problems are not academic. For the first time since first or second grade she leaves for school each morning dreading the day ahead of her. She feels unwelcome. Unaccepted. The other day she told me she feels invisible. And my heart, it crumbled.
I am relieved that Allie is talking to me about what is going on with her. But I don't know how to fix this for her, and it's killing me. I walk around with a pit of anxiety boiling in my stomach. Imagining her feeling unwanted. Imagining her feeling unworthy. I find myself treating her differently. I don't make her do quite as much around the house. I buy her small things to make her smile. I write her little notes. When she walks in the door from school I can't help but pounce on her, asking her a little too cheerfully and pointedly how her day was. I want so badly to make home a soft and comforting place to land.
When Allison was Ben's age we had concerns about her starting kindergarten the next year. Her birthday falls 6 days before the cut-off so she was the youngest. She didn't really know her letters and she was just seemed immature compared to the other kids. It seems so obvious to me now that she wasn't ready. But her teachers encouraged us to send her on, and so we did. (Incidentally her fine motor skills were amazing)
Eventually she caught up academically but socially she has always been younger. We will always regret the decision we made to send her on. Even now, eight years later, I cannot help but wonder if she would be in this place if she were a year older.
Did we make the right decision by her back then?
Did that decision cause her the pain she is experiencing now?
I don't know. There is no way too know.
Is it helping her to deal with her current situation by coddling her at home?
I don't know.
Am I afraid to send Ben on to Kindergarten because of Allie's struggles then and now.
Would it be the right decision to hold him back as well?
I don't know.
I just don't. And it kills me that I don't. And that I may never know if the decision I make is the right one. The most difficult part of parenting is not doing what needs to be done, but knowing what to do. And relying on God when you don't. I'm not so good at this.
Today I am thankful for my two sensitive children.
May I always do right by you. And may my prayers be enough to carry you when I don't.