On the first day of first grade

first-gradeI’m just feeling very nervous.

“What’s making you feel nervous? Maybe we can talk about the certain things that are making you nervous.”

What if nobody wants to be my friend? I’m going to be very shy. It’s my first day.

“Well, it’s a lot of kids’ first day. Some of them went to the school for Kindergarten, but this will be their first day in first grade. Some of them, like you, went to different schools in Kindergarten. It’s everyone’s first day of school, and a lot of the kids will feel a little shy or nervous. That’s alright. And there’s going to be a lot more kids at this school than at your other school. Do you think out of all those kids, there might be at least one that will want to be your friend?” [He nods] “Well, okay then. So what do you think you should do if you want to be someone’s friend?”

I could go up and say, ‘My name is T; what’s your name?’

“That’s probably a good idea.”

But what if they don’t like me? What if they’re mean to me?

“What are you supposed to do if someone is mean to you? What did you do at your other school?”

I used my words. And then, if they weren’t listening, I would tell the teacher.

“Same rules apply here. Try to work it out for yourself; use your words. Then, if that doesn’t work, you can talk to a teacher.”

How many kids are in my school?

“I’m not sure. But your class will probably have 20 to 30 kids.”

That’s a lot.

“It is. Do you think, out of 30 kids, you’ll be able to make a couple of friends?” [He nods] “It might not even happen the first day. There’s a lot of new things happening that first day of school, and you might be nervous. That’s alright. But give it a couple of days, and I’m sure you’ll have lots of friends to play with.”

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That was our conversation the night before the first day of first grade. When he woke up the next morning, he was so excited about his new school, his new teachers, and his (soon-to-be) new friends. I took the requisite first day of school photos, and then he continued to ask for more. We got pictures in front of the school sign, in front of the front doors, by his new classroom.

I walked him to his classroom, pointing out the giant yellow D that indicated his hallway. We checked out the photos of his teachers on the door and he told me that they looked “really nice.” I walked him to the library, the cafeteria. He was impressed by the size of both areas.

Then I walked him to the outer door where I would be dropping him off every morning and picking him up every afternoon for his before- and after-school care. We walked in the door (which took us into the cafeteria we’d just seen) and one member of the program staff introduced himself to my son. He walked me through how to check my son in and out, and then explained the program to me. After we were done, he asked T if he’d like to say good-bye to his mom so he could show him all the fun things they had to do.

He hugged me and kissed me. I told him I loved him, and that I’d see him in a few hours. He smiled the biggest smile, and I knew – like I always know – that he is going to be just fine.

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