My son tells me very little about how he spends his half-day of kindergarten. However, once in a while, a clue to his day slips out at an unexpected time, and I immediately pounce:
Son: Do you see my face? (He proudly points to a brown smudge around his mouth and smiles slyly.) Do you think it’s dirt?
Me: Hmmm? Maybe …
Son: It’s not. It’s … HOT CHOCOLATE!!
Me: What!? You had hot chocolate at school! Why?
Son: (Already losing interest in conversation) For that reading thing?
Me: What reading thing?
Son: You know. That reading thing. The thing with the paper.
Me: (I have no idea what he is talking about). Oh ….. Okay. Did everyone get hot chocolate?
Son: Just me.
Me: Really? Just you? Did you go somewhere else to have it? Like the cafeteria? (I am now vaguely remembering a Winter Break Reading Challenge and the promise of a hot chocolate party if completed).
Son: No. I just sat by myself and had hot chocolate. I couldn’t do my work.
Me: By yourself?
Son: I didn’t really like it. But, I finished it. I was … politely! (He looks at me proudly. We recently discussed how sometimes it is polite to eat something you don’t really like if someone else made it for you. I take a moment to bask in this mom win, but then I feel bad. Perhaps, I stressed the point too much? I hate to imagine my son gagging his way through a cup of hot chocolate just because he thought he had to finish it!).
Me: Well … that was nice of you. Why was it bad?
Son: It just was.
Me: And, really, no one else had hot chocolate with you? You sat alone? You couldn’t do your work?
Son: (He shrugs, wanders off, and calls over his shoulder) There were marshmallows, though!
So, as far as my know, my son was rewarded for reading ten books over winter break by sitting alone somewhere in his classroom and drinking hot chocolate he didn’t even like. And, all the while, he was not allowed to do any of his work.
I know this is not the whole story, and this is an endless source of frustration for me. It would be nice to have a play-by-play of his days. I would love someone to fill in all of the missing gaps of information. But, I know I can’t sneak into his school and peak through the window; I can’t ask the teacher for a detailed itinerary each and every day.
Logically, I know that this is how it is supposed to be. Kindergarten is the first of many giant steps that my boy will take away from me. But, that doesn’t mean I have to like it!
However, through these conversations (these interrogations that produce only half stories), I am at least able to get a glimpse of my son’s behavior while apart from me. I can see how he acts when I am not there to guide him with my mom looks or my gentle nudges in the right direction.
I am still amazed to think that my son “politely” drank the hot chocolate. He didn’t proclaim loudly that he didn’t like it. He didn’t say “ewww” or “this is gross.” He didn’t shove it away. This boggles my mind because he performs a variety of these actions each and every night at the dinner table.
And better yet, even though he seemed somewhat underwhelmed by this hot chocolate treat, he ended on a positive …. There were marshmallows, though!
Although, I have no idea what really happened during this mysterious “hot chocolate party,” I am so pleased that he is able to focus on the positive. I hope this is something he is able to do each and every day at school.
I know that soon enough there will be days when he doesn’t want to be at school. He will fail a test, forget his homework, or have a fight with a friend. And during these times, if he can remember to focus on the good, taking a moment to look hard enough to find it, these incidents will not bother him so much. If he is not bogged down with the heavy task of focusing so much on the disappointments, success in school- and life- will be so much easier.
So, how do you get your kids to tell you about their days? Clearly, I am not doing such a great job in this department! I would love to hear your ideas!