Friday, June 05, 2009

End of an Era

Today The Child graduated from 5th grade and elementary school. Many thoughts swirled through my head as I reminisced about his school career and then dredged up ancient memories of my own schooling.

We were lucky that The Child was able to attend this particular elementary school. A gem within a huge urban school district, this highly sought-after school is populated by students who have won the citywide lottery. It's an alternative school, which basically means that the individual is honored. Because acceptance is paramount, there is no such thing as bullying here.

Before he started Kindergarten, I was a wreck, thoroughly convinced that there was no way that my son would survive even a day of Kindergarten. I wrote a letter to the principal of this school, expressing my concerns. To my shock, she called me and invited me to bring The Child in a few days before school started to meet with her and his teacher. This was the beginning of the support and acceptance that was offered to me by this school. As a single mother with no family or support, this meant the world to me.

It was still traumatic for The Child to start school, even after the generous preparation from the principal and teacher. All-day Kindergarten was too much for him. But thank heavens he was in that particular school, where his lessons could be learned in a caring and conscious environment.

One morning I dropped him off in his Kindergarten classroom, and just before I rushed off to work, I became aware of a problem brewing. One of his classmates, one who indulged in the alteration of facts to suit his agenda, was becoming enraged because The Child was in after-school latchkey and he wasn't. The Troublemaker was telling the teacher that The Child had been taunting him and telling him lies about latchkey, of all things. (Hard though it is to imagine, The Troublemaker was actually upset that he wasn't in latchkey.)

I knew what had been going on between the two boys because The Child had been diligent about telling me EVERYTHING. When I arrived at work, I called the principal of the school to tell her what was going on, and I was so worked up that I was shaking as I informed her that the teacher was preparing to send The Child to detention over a problem that had been fabricated by The Troublemaker.

In any other school The Child would have been sent to detention and been reprimanded, whether he deserved it or not. At this school, the principal made a beeline to the Kindergarten room, where she intervened and took the two boys to her office. Using top-notch problem-solving techniques, she heard each boy's version of events. In a fit of brilliance, she called The Troublemaker's big brother into her office to check out the facts as presented by The Troublemaker, and sure enough, Big Brother exposed the fabrication.

One of the things I loved about this school was its bookstore. Families and teachers donated their used books, and the books were then sold to students at prices ranging from a penny to a dollar, and the proceeds were used for school projects. I volunteered at the bookstore, and really enjoyed being in charge one afternoon each week. I met lots of students that way, and enjoyed watching the children embark upon a lifelong love affair with books.

Today I was much more distraught than the Child was over the end of our relationship with this school. I console myself with the reminder that the relationship may be over, but the lessons learned, by both The Child and his mother, are everlasting.


Loving Annie said...

The child's formative years were spent in an excellent environment. You couldn't ask for a better foundation, Betty... Sad yes that he graduated - and yet, he has the preparation of being respected and knowing what that feels like. He'll be able to handle himself well when he starts 6th grade :)

Lynilu said...


Big Dave T said...

Wow, I had always had him pictured in high school or something. From your stories here, he sounds so mature. Either that or else kids grow up so much more quickly these days.

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I sure hope you're right!


Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,



Betty said...

Dear Big Dave,

Yes, he is more mature in a sense, because he has spent a tremendous amount of time one-on-one with either me or a very carefully selected sitter. His environment included other children only at school.

But kids do grow up more quickly these days also!


Anonymous said...

The Child is lucky :)
Very much so lucky :)

It's hard to watch children grow
Your son is going to be just fine
in middle school :)

Congrats to him :)