School is here, parents are thrilled, and school supplies abound. I am not left out in that number. What was once a somewhat sad time of year for me as a child, having to leave the freedom of summer to head back to school, is now a time to rejoice. Two of my four children are once again going back to school, in schools I love, with wonderful teacher who are offering to teach my children for a while school year and leave me with a lot less to deal with. This is great, and I'm happy for it, however this year felt more complicated somehow. You see, last year Mikaiah started the 2nd grade and Sequoia, who had turned 5 on July 1st started Kindergarten. I was thrilled, and so were they. Sequoia loved her teacher, her class, and (most days) loved going to school in general. However, it soon became apparent that she was not thriving as we had hoped. Sequoia has always had "big feelings" and struggles to reign them in. In short, she spent much of her time at school throwing tantrums and working on calming down, which didn't leave her a whole lot of time to learn. Half way through the year it became pretty clear that she was well behind (emotionally and academically) the rest of the class and would not be ready for the first grade the following year. Seth and I talked about it with the teacher throughout the year and agreed that holding her back was the right thing to do. Of this I am 100% sure we are doing the right thing. When she found out she would get to go to Kindergarten again Sequoia was thrilled (much to my relief.)
However, as the first graders went back to school (they start a few days before the kindergartners) I found myself surprisingly emotional. Here on my facebook feed were the pictures of all Sequoia's classmates going back to school, joining the first grade, moving on.. and here we were, once again, waiting for Kindergarten. I wanted to cry. Actually, I did cry. I drove to my friends house and buried my head in her shoulder, still totally unaware of why this was so hard for me. She held me and cried with me a little bit, and then we all ran errands together. That's what real friends do I think, they listen and encourage and then walk beside you (quite literally sometimes) just so you know you're not alone.
I have had to process this whole thing quite a bit, but eventually I came to the conclusion that it really wasn't because Sequoia had to repeat Kindergarten that I had a hard time with, but rather what that represented Parenting Sequoia is an immense pleasure and also the biggest challenge of my life. We have been in an extremely difficult parenting phase with her for basically her whole life! She has always been quick to throw fits and lose control. She either takes directions perfectly, or not at all. Running and screaming (happily) through the grocery store disregarding everything I say or do is not uncommon. She's definitely getting better, but she is quite exhausting to raise, to be quite honest. I wouldn't trade her for the world, but I would love to see her conquer some of the things and areas she struggles with so, and seeing her here in Kindergarten, AGAIN, just somehow burst something in me, something that felt a bit like defeat. The disappointment of not being where I thought we would be (parent and child) by this point. The feeling of so wanting my child to succeed in taking control of her feelings and reactions so that she can learn, and grow and enjoy life to it's fullest. The feeling that we are never going to get past this point, that she will remain in Kindergarten forever (even though I know it's not true.) Recognizing that it is okay, and valid to feel this way has been a relief.
Although our situations are all different I think at some point most of us experience things like this. Something that no matter how hard we try we just can't seem to get past. The frustration, hurt, and feelings of inadequacy can be overwhelming. These are the times that I turn to James where he says (James 1:2-4 )" Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
So although we are not through it yet, and I am sure there are more tears to come I choose to consider this a Joy, knowing all that it is doing in me and in my daughter as well, developing perseverance and shaping us into the people that God made us to be. In this I find hope. Hope and encouragement to keep moving forward. Kindergarten 2.0, here we come!