For the second day in a row, Riley has come home from school, finished her snack and got cracking on her homework. It’s as if she enjoys it. She’s so stoked to do it. She loves crossing all the things off the list. She loves telling me where I have to sign things. She’s just thriving on the structure and organization. The pacing at this school seems just right. She is happy.
I have not had time to mention a little story about her orientation the weekend before school started. She was so nervous walking in she couldn’t let go of my hand. We sat in the gym/auditorium and there was a speech by the principal and then the new students went off with kids who already attend the school(ambassadors) for a tour. Riley got up and went with her ambassador no problem. Then Riley came back, and took us to her class.
As we stood chatting with her new teachers, a girl and her parents came into the room. The girl looked like a flower at night, all closed in on herself. Eyes down. Shoudlers slumped forward. Riley saw her and bounced over,
“Hi! My name is Riley. I’m new here too.”
She waited a beat. The girl didn’t look up. She didn’t utter a word.
Riley said, “I can see you’re really nervous. I’m nervous too.”
Again, no outward response from the girl. She seemed so afraid.
Riley smiled at her and said, “I can see you’re overwhelmed, so I’m going to back off, but I look forward to being in class with you.”
The girls parents looked at us. The mother, appearing amazed asked, “Where do you live?”
You can’t even imagine how full my heart was, watching my girl navigate this exchange.
When we pulled her out of school two and a half years ago it was not well thought out. It was instinct. School had not been going well and she was beginning to internalize that she was the problem. On a gut level I knew she could always make up whatever academics she missed at home, but hearts are not easily repaired. We were protecting her heart.
In my parenting journey, I’ve never had the luxury of feeling like I know what I’m doing. Of knowing I’m a good mom. The task at hand has been daunting. There are no experts showing me the way. My kids are so different and you can’t measure anything against how anyone else is doing anything. But I feel like we did the right thing. I feel like we pulled her out at the right time, and we put her back in at the right time. She’s just started 7th grade and is attending a private school for kids with learning differences.
If you click on the glorious photo of Hot Toddy above, it takes you to a blog post three years ago when homework was a blood bath. Riley spent so much energy just surviving each day, she was exhausted at home. Homework that should have been simple took hours to complete. Her darling daddy sometimes resorted to the wig to make her laugh and snap her out of a meltdown.
I’ll never tire of the photo, but I’m happy to retire the wig.