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Super Sisters

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Jen, Kristen, and Patience

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I carry your heart

Posted by Patience on August 25, 2008 at 7:05 AM in Patience
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I've heard that when you have a child it's like a part of your heart is now roaming around the earth outside of your body. I have never felt those words more heavily than the day I sent my son Josiah to kindergarten.
Preschool seemed safe, like an extension of home. There were lots of mothers with babies on their hips lingering around and muslin tote bags hanging on hooks, nothing felt very official.

When did kindergarten become so serious? Full length school days, supply lists, homework and backpacks that look like luggage. I felt like I was releasing my boy to the big wide world. While I was excited for all the two had for each other, I felt the gravity of this new and necessary stage of sharing him.

The first week went well and Josiah seemed to be adjusting nicely until we had an unexpected school switch. His new teacher was not exactly the most sensitive soul on the planet and the third morning of the new class proved to be a breakdown sort of day.
I stood at the door way to say goodbye and Josiah burst into tears.

"Why is he crying?" the new teacher said in an annoyed tone.

Peace, gentleness, kindness, these are deep values I hold to. Rage and violence actually seemed like an option in that moment is all I'll say.

"Because this is a big change Mrs. X and it's okay to cry when you feel overwhelmed and unsure in a new situation. Can you give us just a minute? Thanks." I replied while daggers flew from my eyes.

Josiah buried his face into his hands while long sobs flowed out of him. My heart was in about a million pieces. Jack put his hand on Josiah's back and a baby Lucy on my hip held his head. We all hugged for just a minute while I tried to figure out what to do.

"I can't do it Mom, I can't go in there..." he cried.

"I know, I know this is REALLY hard. Can you look at me?"
I was racking my brain while trying not to completely fall apart myself. I knew intuitively if I took him home it would make it worse but I also new I had about 3 seconds to turn this situation around. He needed some thing real and very big, he needed the strength of my heart.

I desperately felt in all my pockets hoping I had something tangible to give him; I had nothing except my keys. I quickly unscrewed a tiny old key off my chain while wondering if he'd even buy my meager attempt at helping him cope.

"Buddy, do you see this key? This key is very special because it holds all my strength and love. I want you to take this key and put it in your hand. This is so hard but I know you can do it. When you feel scared, sad or unsure reach in your pocket and feel the key because it means my love and heart are with you okay?"
"Do you feel it? I'm giving it to you right now, in this very moment."

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His tear stained eyes looked up and nodded. He knew he had to go.
We hugged and I whispered one last "I love you and I'm with you" in his ear and he walked into the room. I barely made it to the car until I burst into tears and cried the entire way home. I picked him up later that day fully expecting round two of emotional parenting hell but he was surprisingly okay. I was so relieved to find out he still had my made up treasure and hadn't lost it.
"I think that key helped me mom, I just kept feeling it in my pocket. Thanks."

He took the little key everyday for the next week until he decided he didn't need it anymore.
What he doesn't know is that even without a key, he will carry my heart forever.


Jack is next and this time I'm prepared, I cut this little heart out today.

Calling all Supersisters: Tell us in the comments your first day of school traditions and rituals that help with the transition of new teachers and a new school year? a special breakfast, a secret wink, a note in a lunch box, etc... Or even better, what did you do in moments of crisis like Josiah's or Carter's? Don't hold out on us!

The PBS Parent masters have some great advice here about how to help the start be smooth for everyone. You can also check out this on how to build a good relationship with the other person spending so much time with your child.


kimmy writes...

Ah, a transition object! Brilliant and quick thinking! I've actually read about using objects to help with transitions but I've never used one :)

Reminds me of that sweet children's book , "The Kissing Hand."

As a home educator, I've never had to do the "first day of school" thing but one of my wee'uns (ok, he's 9) has always found new situations to be challenging. we usually role play or script out a new situation beforehand to ease to tension. I've also found that getting to a new place a little before the crowds helps my fella feel more comfortable.

Thanks Sisters

Cary writes...

I loved this story! Oh, the pain of pushing those sweet little birds out of our nests. The key and the heart are brilliant ideas. I am going to make one for my Gracie who starts a new Montessori school next week. Big changes need big love.

melanie writes...

This little story made me cry! What a powerful, thoughtful mama bear you are.

I am about to send my oldest to Pre-K, in an elementary school, and he has already expressed his nervousness towards this whole new experience. Now I feel a little better equipped to support him through this change.

We have that EE Cummings poem hanging on our wall at home. (My husband and I recited it to each other on our wedding day.) For our first anniversary I drew a real human heart over top of the words to remind us that this object we speak of is a real, tangible, beating organ inside us. And when our children asked about this I told them to remember that with every pulse, our hearts are spreading love through our veins.

Synge writes...

What a beautiful post- and what beautiful mothering! I'm sure Josiah will remember this spirit of loving wholeness forever and it will flow down the generational stream into his parenting. what a gift!

Kelly writes...

I loved this story and it made me cry. So beautiful. I have one more little bird that isn't quite kindergarten age but I know it's coming. I'll remember this and have the key to my heart ready.

Peace & love

Kim writes...

Your story is fantastic. Kindergarten is hard! On parents and kids both! We have found we read and re-read The Kissing Hand alot this time of year, as someone else already mentioned. And then, as I leave my twin kindergarteners at the bus with their big 5th grade brother, they often ask me to kiss the palm of their hands and then they hold it to their hearts... and I do the same with them!

Every day I remind myself that it will get easier - and I think it does. Thank you for sharing your story though - It helps so much to know this time of year, parents and kids everywhere are experiencing the same kinds of things.

Naomi writes...

What a fantastic decision in those "3 seconds" ... you're a great momma!!

We read "The Kissing Hand" and are talking ALOT about the things we'll be doing while he's at school (our kindergartner is JUST as worried about leaving his sister alone as he is about going into a big, new school).

I'll tell you a fun new secret... take a ball of playdough and tuck in some glitter. Cover the glitter and make a perfect ball.

If your child finds magic sparkles in their playdough on the first day of school, it means that ___________ (they'll love their teacher, or the year will be great, or .....)

Kati writes...

Brilliant bit of mothering there, Patience.

What a lovely story and I look forward to reading many more mama tidbits from you and your sisters!

jen lemen writes...

this is great, pache. i wonder if something like this would work for carter.

Pat writes...

This is fantastic. My oldest is going to Kindergarten in 2 weeks, and she's excited now, but she'll have a tough time on that day. This is beautiful!

Sara writes...

Brilliant on-the-spot-mothering! I think I would have lost it.

This story brought back memories of how hard it was to say goodbye to my own mother when she dropped me off at school. One of our little secret rituals was the ASL (American Sign Language) sign for "I love you." As I was walking away from her, we would give each other that sign. Something about the specialness of it made it easier to separate from her.

Thanks for the super sweet tear-jerker, brave mama ;)


nancy writes...

I rarely get misty when I read blogs, and that choked me up. Beautifully written.

The note I remember my mom writing me was "No matter how tough things may be, I'm glad you belong to me."

christa writes...

This post brought me right back to my first day of school. My mom made me special lunch bags everyday. She would decorate brown paper bags with beautiful pictures. Inside there was always a special message on a cut out heart or a butterfly about learning or being strong or how much she loved me. I love how the key was so symbolic of your strength and love and J knew when he didn't need it anymore. Thanks for posting this today.

Stephanie writes...

I love this post. This is my 4th year having the 1st Day of school. My kids don't cry, but I cry when I get home.

Sarah writes...

Wow--you are so good under pressure! You were so right to recognize how little time you had to make things right, and then you DID! Will you be MY mother? ;)
Awesome idea, great post about it!

Marion writes...

Beautifully written! I want to tuck a heart in my daughter's pocket as she heads for her first day of middle school. Thanks for clarifying what is most important. Best to the three sisters.

JessicaAPISS writes...

Beautiful post - pure poetic prose, total awesome.

Colleen writes...

This really made me teary-eyed! My little birds are about to start school for the second year... you'd think I'd be used to it, but I am still so sad and they are definitely picking up on my anxiety. Last year I gave Jade a photo of all of us to keep in her cubby - just incase - which worked for her. This year I'm thinking I will draw a little heart (or henna it!) on their arms so they can 'carry' something around with them for the first couple of weeks.

Great stuff!! Looking forward to reading more!

Kristin writes...

Beautiful post, Patience. We start school next week & I know it will be a difficult day/first couple of weeks as we adjust from the fun and togetherness of summer to a new school year. We've had many tearful days at the beginning of school for my oldest, who would just stay home with Mommy all her days if it were up to her. I'm not sure that one thing worked, just the passing of time - realizing that she enjoyed school & building a relationship with her teacher & new friends. Lots of days, I've put love notes in her lunch bag or given her a little heart to hold (just like your picture) & we've even put a little rescue remedy in her water thermos for a little extra help. Give your sweet boy hugs & kisses. xoxo

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