My family moved to Starkville from Kentucky when I was in the 3rd grade. After we moved, I was enrolled at Emerson right away. I cried for two weeks straight. My mom had to come every day to rock and hold me to get me through the rest of the day.
Today, Merit started her first day at Emerson. It’s no longer the 3rd grade (clearly, although I guess Merit could be a 2-year-old genius). Emerson is now a family school for ages 1-5. After visiting yesterday, Merit was so excited to start today. She woke up chipper and excited. She understood, as we explained multiple times, that we would be leaving her and picking her up.
As the morning went on, her behavior got worse. She didn’t want to get dressed, she didn’t want to eat, she didn’t want any help with anything. She tried to hit me and growled at me. I got frustrated and felt helpless. These behaviors are typical for a 2-year-old – but I know if Merit is acting out she is either hangry, sleepy, or stressed. Her being stressed didn’t dawn on me until before she left because she had been so excited.
Just because going to school is something she wants doesn’t mean that she isn’t scared.
I put her in the car seat and leaned in. She didn’t want to hug me or kiss me. I said, “Merit, you are going to be ok. I know you are scared, but you are brave.” Tears formed in her eyes, and she shook her head yes, which made me cry. I repeated the same thing over and over and assured her that I would be picking her up and when. She shook her head again and asked for about ten kisses and hugs before she rode off with Clare to be dropped off.
When Clare pulled up to the school, Merit dropped all of her things and ran in. She hesitantly and quietly went through her classroom door that said, “Welcome Merit,” but took her teachers hand, gave Clare a kiss, and joined the other kids.
I am so proud of her. She is so much braver than me. She helped me remember that kids are no different than adults. We all act out when we are scared, it just looks different. Even if it is something we want or something we asked for – change is scary. I hope I remember to acknowledge her feelings sooner next time she is scared.
That kid. She pushes me every day to be better and better.
Thank you, Emerson. You have been amazing – you’ve accommodated all of our dietary restrictions and have made Merit and us feel so welcome. We are grateful.