Today Everett is officially a first grader. He had his first professional haircut in preparation for this. He got to ride his bicycle to school too, though Christopher had to accompany him because the school insists that first graders have adults with them. I’m hoping to have him confident in getting himself safely to and from school by the end of the year, though. My plan is for us to only give him a cursory accompaniment. Chris will follow behind him and make sure he gets there, but mostly allow him to go it on his own steam. I will pick him up and hang out with him while they play on the playground. But I will start letting him go ahead of us and arrive home before us. Loosening the reigns a bit. Build up his confidence in himself.
I know some people are shocked at the idea of letting a 6 year old get himself to and from school by himself, but I did it and I lived farther from school than he does. Technically my older brother was supposed to walk me, but let’s be real here. My older brother walked with friends and I attempted to keep up as they cut through yards and tried to lose me. Eventually I knew the 3 safe routes; which was better for walking (shorter), which was better for biking (more hills!), and which was to be used in the event of bullies in the area. None of which prevented me from getting on a bus to a community center after-school program I was not a member of because I wanted to see some turtles I’d found at the creek that the center had taken in as pets (but apparently either accidentally killed or released when I was gone). When you aren’t old enough to remember your exact address or phone number that is an adventure, let me tell you. At least we lived on a military base so all I had to do was give them my father’s name for them to sort out where I was supposed to be and call my mom. (Incidentally.. I STILL remember that address and I haven’t lived there in over 22 years.)
My kids have pretty much only one route to school and it has 3-4 crossing guards posted along that route. I think he’ll be okay.
As for school he loved it, of course. His teacher was a PreK teacher before this year so he remembers her from his PreK days at the school. He has several of his Kindergarten classmates in his class and is reacquainting himself with a boy who wasn’t so nice to him last year on the playground but seems to be open to playing with him this year. I told him that sometimes people just need a second chance to be the nice person they really are.
And I believe that to be true. Everyone makes mistakes. Operates under misconceptions. Gets swept up in emotion or the cool crowd or whatever and acts a way they maybe don’t even realize they are until they are too deeply embedded in it. Having a fresh start was always the best thing about the beginning of school for me. As adults we don’t often get those fresh starts because we don’t have those cyclical reintroductions. I try to remember that the next time I run into someone who maybe rubbed me the wrong way or said something that made me bristle or maybe even made me cry in my car. I don’t always succeed in remembering this, but I try.
Here’s to a new year with new friends and new chances to be better people.