Over breakfast this morning, I asked our son whether he wanted me to walk him to his Kindergarten classroom, or just drop him off at car circle, as his sister had done on her first day of school. He wanted me to walk him to his classroom. Then, it dawned on him.
“Is tomorrow the first day of school?”
“Yes, it is.”
“I don’t want to go to school,” he moaned, crying, with his toast falling out of his mouth.
“I promise,” I reminded, “I’m going to tell your teacher about Lily. Do you need to let your cry out some more?”
“Do you want to snuggle?”
“Yes.” He calmed down.
Two days ago, the school hosted an orientation for new students and parents. We stopped at our son’s Kindergarten classroom, and opened the door to a room filled to capacity with parents, new kindergarteners and their siblings. He took two steps in–and I happily pointed out two children he knew, a neighbor Sam and a preschool classmate Lily–and he marched right back out. I needed to carry him into the classroom as he quietly cried, and snuggle him for a good 10 minutes before he became interested in some toys.
Over the course of the weekend, I learned from him that in fact, he walked into that room on Friday and saw Lily’s dad before anything or anybody else.
“It frightened me,” because he knew then that Lily was in his class. He wailed, “I don’t want to be by Lily!”
Lily’s seat in class is right across from his. I’d guess this was done at her father’s benign request–his older daughter had the same teacher last year, and he likely shared with the teacher that Lily and our son were PreKindergarten classmates, sat next to each other, and got along.
But I learned from our daughter this weekend that she has seen Lily pull our son’s hair, grab at him, and generally bother him. Now, I’m sure Lily does this because she likes our son, but our son just doesn’t dig it.
And while Lily is a very bright, precocious girl, even I, an adult, can imagine not wanting “to be by” her, either. She told me last spring, as I was volunteering at the school carnival, that she wanted to marry our son. (Our son was off somewhere else with his sister and my husband.) I said, “Oh really? Then I’d be your mother-in-law!” I made a silly face. She decided to tickle my arm by scratching lightly, then harder, and her mother said, “Lily, be gentle. She likes to do that,” she added, by way of explanation, I guess. The mother walked off with her other daughter to buy something, leaving Lily with me for a minute. Lily then scratched me much harder, to the point of breaking my skin.
I looked at her with a very blank expression and said, “That hurt me. You need to stop.” Lily looked stricken. I don’t think she expected me to stop her, and she may have felt remorse, but I honestly can’t be sure. She was much nicer after that, though. Perhaps Lily hasn’t quite mastered the art of hearing “no.”
I don’t want to be one of “those” parents, but I will write a note to the teacher explaining our son’s anxiety about Lily, if only to share that he hasn’t quite mastered the art of saying “no.”
Saying it is, I think, is more important than hearing it.