“The best days of all.” That’s a line from one of my school songs, sang each year by the old girls. The sad truth is that for many people they aren’t happy days at all and certainly not the best ones. For some school is a 12 year-year-long nightmare. I don’t want it to be that way for my children. I want them to enjoy learning, love reading, be in the sports teams and do well. I fairly confident most parents are the same.
The problem is that my pride can get in the way of what might be best for my children. I gave birth to them, of course I know best. The thing is, sometimes I don’t. Like the time I made my son eat oatmeal despite his protestations and he threw up all over me. Or when I did battle with the school to force them to send my child into Grade 1 when he patently wasn’t ready.
It’s now time to sit back and reconsider. I sat in his classroom this morning and watched the other boys read. My son is nowhere near their level of competence. His mathematics is fine, he seems to grasp it well, but his language, sports skills and social interaction is not as advanced as the older boys in his class. At break times he plays with the Grade 0 boys.
He was born in September and is the youngest in his class. That developmental gap is huge now, although by the time he reaches high school it will have closed. I was also one of the youngest in my class. The others were always stronger, more confident, got boobs first, had boyfriends first, got cars first. I was the last. It wasn’t great. I survived, but an extra year might have done me the world of good. Who knows?
So, do I force him up to Grade 2 where he will continue to struggle or do I let him stay back a year with a teacher he loves, in an environment he beginning to gain confidence in? My gut feel is to keep him back. He’ll be better at sport, better in the classroom and able to concentrate on growing his self-esteem as he begins to succeed instead of battle.
I have fought this every step of the way. I have fought the teacher, the headmistress, the speech and language therapist, the academic support teacher, the school psychologist and myself. I didn’t want to be the one who made a mistake. I’m beginning to realise I was.
I put my son in this position. I’m the one who has destroyed his confidence. I am the one who let her pride get in the way of being a parent, a guardian and a mentor.
I hope there is time to make it right.