It’s September! (Although to be fair, it doesn’t feel like September because we’re under a heat warning and a humidex in the 40s.)
But it IS September, and so that means it’s time to get That Girl back to school. And with that, it also means it’s time to get back to a regular routine after a summer of none, and back to our full schedule of appointments and activities.
It’s a time of decidedly mixed feelings for me. I love and struggle with September in equal measure. Part of me cannot wait for September and fall, and part of me is sad to see the end of summer, with its sunshine and swimming and freedom. Part of me loves getting That Girl back into school and me getting back to a regular routine, and part of me feels slightly overwhelmed by the onslaught of responsibilities.
When I was a kid, I hated back to school time. I didn’t enjoy school. I did okay but I always felt like I did not fit in. I got good grades, and I had friends, and I wasn’t bullied or anything like that, but I still felt like I was an outsider. I felt like the others didn’t like me. I felt like the weird kid. I was lonely.
I guess I was perfectly nice and friendly to others, because as an adult I was told that I was by the kids who were maybe not “cool” but were still my friends. But I never believed that anyone actually liked me or that I could trust that they would be my friend always. I was not one of those kids who had friends that lasted all through school and into adulthood.
Plus my mom died, and I had one parent. So I was weird. And a lot of boys liked me, so a lot of the girls didn’t. So I was not to be trusted and I was to be avoided.
Anyway, the point is… I hated school.
But Stinkerbelle, she LOVES school. Even though she is at the bottom of her class, and struggles with the tasks set out for her, she loves to be there. Even though she is a target for the bullies in her class, and is teased for her lack of abilities, she loves to be there. So while I am happy for September to come along and to have time to myself again, I am apprehensive on her behalf.
I watched her this morning, without a “best friend” to giggle with. No one ran up to her to say hello. None of the little girls came and hugged her and said they missed her over the summer. In fact, despite her giving our contact information to some of the girls to make play dates over the summer, not one of them called us. She spent the summer alone with me, when she was home.
I felt sad for her. I know how she feels. I know how it feels to be lonely in a crowd. Many of us do, I’m sure.
I want her to be embraced by friends, sought out to play with at recess, missed when she is not there. I want her to have a friend, a protector, an ally. I want someone to love and appreciate and care for her while I am unable to. And as she walked into the school, alone in a crowd of grade 3 students, I really felt for her.
But on the other hand, she is resilient. She makes her time at school fun, regardless. She tried hard and works hard and will occasionally make friends, usually with the other kids on the fringes. She is well-liked by all the teachers and although her peers may not befriend her, kids in other grades know her and greet her in the halls and treat her kindly. And she genuinely loves to be there each day.
It makes her happy to go to school each day. It gives her fun and excitement and stimulation. It gives her the social interaction she craves, and the outlet for creativity and activity that she needs. And while what she learns is just a tiny fraction of what her peers learn, she does yearn to learn new things and become better and smarter, so it satisfies that need, too.
She’ll do alright. She loves September. It’s me who’s not so sure.
And this week, they have adopted a new routine. Kids start the week in “teams” — That Girl is in “Team Green” — which are sorted by grade. Each team will move through the various teachers in that grade, doing review and such, as well as spending lots of time playing games and doing team-building exercises and getting to know not just the other kids but the teachers as well.
As the week goes on, the teachers can observe how the kids are doing academically, how they get on with other kids, and how they fit with the teachers. At the end of the week (or maybe sometime next week, I am unsure) they will be assigned their full-time teacher and classroom and all that entails, like desks and coathooks and such.
What I am wishing for is that along the line, sometime this week, the teachers will see how she gets on with some of the kids. Maybe some of the shyer, but kinder, kids like Megan and Ellie and Jennie, who will be good for That Girl, will also be moved into her group and ultimately her class. Maybe some of the more obnoxious and bullying kids, like Melissa and Ruby and Colton, will show their true colours and be moved elsewhere.
Although I am not terribly hopeful. Given that That Girl is academically so far behind, the chances are great that she will be in the grade 2/3 split class so she can do grade 2 work in math and English. And unfortunately, most of the kids who bully and tease her are also lower on the academic scale, so they’ll probably be in the 2/3 split too. Alas.
She’ll soldier on. She knows the mean kids will come after her, eventually. But she is learning to cope, and to stand up for herself, and to tell the teacher (or me) when she can’t.
I just wish she didn’t have to.
But it is September, and all things are possible, with new classes and books and dresses and shoes and backpacks. So we will embrace it, and love September, once the heat clears and the dust settles and we’re into our new routine. And we will meet our new school year with enthusiasm and a happy face, and hope that this year will fulfill the hopes and promises of our shiny new books and freshly sharpened pencils.