Ten Things I Learned From My Second-Grader

I was a wimp as a little kid.  Wimpy, skinny, fearful, and shy.  Traits that made my dad cringe, and I’m sure that he is grateful I overcame as I got older.  My daughter, Maycee, on the other hand, having been introduced to daycare at the age of 8 months old, is quite the opposite.  She’s social, empathetic to other little kids, outgoing, funny, loves to play, and just gets in there and does it-as Nike would have it be.  This past week, however, when I arrived Thursday evening to pick her up from Bright Futures (after school program) she was quiet and not her usual smiling little self.  The head teacher, Miss H.,  brought me a volunteer form to fill out so I could attend a special field trip on Saturday with a select few children, Maycee being one of them, who were chosen to go to Fort Hope for the day: a turn-of-the-century old-school ranch up in the hills equipped with a fishing pond, archery range, and mid-western style make-shift town where the kids could learn about how things were done “long ago.”  As I was beginning to fill out this form, I asked Maycee how her day was.  She looked down, moved her right hand back and forth as if to say “so-so”, and then silent tears started streaming down her cheeks, lower lip quivering.

My heart sank.  I stopped writing and asked her what happened.  She told me that three little girls, one of which she thought was going to be a “best friend”, were teasing that she had lice in her hair because she doesn’t wear her hair “up”.  She said they relentlessly followed her around during snack time, even after she asked them to stop.  She was crying hard not only because it was mean but because it hurt her feelings, and Maycee does not get that.  She is not aggressive, does not discriminate with whom she chooses to play with, and has never quite gotten up to speed with kids who have the ability and/or desire at a young age to bully others.  Nonetheless, she also did not tell any of the teachers this was going on, and so, she was left to feel ostracized and sad for the rest of the afternoon.  Miss H. came over to us when she saw the tears, and Maycee described what happened again.  She reassured Maycee that she would let all of the teachers know and that they would handle it tomorrow.  I walked my sweet one outside, still sobbing, and we sat on the bench, Mommy giving her all kinds of advice (from a wimpy kid who’s been there) to just rocking her gently and letting her get it out of her system.  By the time we got home, Maycee was smiling and boasting about it to the neighbor boy (who arrived just in time for dinner).  That night, we prayed for the little girls, and prayed for Maycee’s Friday to be everything wonderful and good, and off to dreamland she went without any apprehension.

Come Friday morning, I was a bit afraid that Maycee might say she didn’t want to go to school, or that she would start worrying about Bright Futures and the girls bothering her again.  Quite the opposite. She bounced out of bed, got dressed, and was singing and skipping around ready to go, not one mention of “those girls”.  I wrote on Maycee’s napkin a special note that read: “God loves you.  Have a great day.  Be strong.” adorned with rainbow colors and i♥you’s to bring a grin to her face as she ate her PB & J. What transpired got me to thinking about all I’ve learned from this small, seven-year-old being, who is not only my daughter, but who is my life. 

LESSON #1: IF YOU WANT TO DEAL WITH A PROBLEM GO DIRECTLY TO THE SOURCE.

Friday, 6PM, I arrived to pick Maycee up, and she was running over to me for a hug, happy, smiling profusely.  When I asked her how things went, if the girls gave her any more trouble she said to me, matter-of-factly: “Nope.  I just went right up and asked them, ‘Why did you say I had lice in my hair yesterday?’  They told me that they weren’t the ones who said it, that C- did.  So, I went up and asked her the same thing, and she tried to hide it from me that she said anything, but I know she did.   Then we all played together for the rest of the day!” 

LESSON #2: PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE.

Kasey, Second Graders are not your size.  The Momma Bear inside of me who wanted to, albeit briefly, pummel those little girls for teasing my kid on said Thursday, held back the fleeting urges to the betterment of Maycee’s wellbeing and complete ability to handle the problem–coming from the same mind and same size as the offending parties–on said Friday.

LESSON #3: LET IT GO.

You  may have hurt my feelings yesterday, but today, I’m going to let it go and give you another chance.  I might just find that you are my best friend after all! (When did it ever make sense to dwell on the past?)

We, as parents, want to protect and defend, even shelter our children from the world’s ways.  And, rightly so, when necessary.  It’s our duty.  But, this situation, and Maycee’s response to it, taught me that she is already equipped with many tools, and I need to let her use them before I intervene, then wait for the outcome.  Score: 1-Maycee, 1-Mommy.  With the first three lessons being revealed, I wanted to pass on more valuable information.  Here you go…

OTHER LESSONS LEARNED:

#4: TANTRUMS WORK.  It’s the old adage that the “squeaky wheel gets the oil”.  Nine times out of ten the parent will cave.  Maybe by the tenth time he or she will act like Verizon Wireless and tell you there’s nothing they can do about those extra minutes charged to your account. Period.

#5: BREAKFAST IS SIMPLY A MEAL PERIOD OF THE DAY, NOT A FOOD GROUP.  If I want to eat pizza at 8AM, and that fills me up, then I’ll eat pizza.  Likewise, if pancakes sound good for dinner, get out the griddle!

#6:  (Along the same lines) DON’T EAT UNLESS YOU ARE HUNGRY.  Eating is for nourishment, not for day-planning purposes.   I can’t remember the last time Maycee said, “Okay, so for breakfast we’re going to have this, and then for lunch we will go out to eat here.  I think for dinner I’m going to make this.”  And, in between we’ll gauge every other waking minute so that we don’t skip eating.  And, can I add that Maycee isn’t afraid to use the scale?!

#7: GIVE ME BOUNDARIES….PLEASE!  Yes, that means that even Mommy’s play dates should only go so long, and Mommy should set a bed time to get enough rest.  (I said I’ve learned these, but I’m still working on putting some of them into practice.)

#8: TELL THE TRUTH, REALLY.  Okay, perhaps we adults acquire a bit more tact along they way, but at least when Maycee says, “Mommy, you look like you’re having a baby.” as I’m wearing my favorite dress…well, gosh darn it, at least I know!  (And, I can promptly give the dress to the Good Will, since I’m not pregnant.)

#9: I GOT THIS, OKAY?.  More often than not lately I hear these words being uttered, “Mom, I can do it myself!”  Or, these, “I know what I’m supposed to do, Mom.”  She’s seven, yes, she’s seven, and she doesn’t always need my help anymore.  I’m 38.  Enough said.

AND…..LESSON #10: NEVER BE AFRAID TO SAY, “I LOVE YOU.”

No matter how many problems, no matter how many spats, no matter how many times of letting go, no matter how many tantrums, no matter how many food groups left untouched, no matter how many boundaries broken, no matter how many truths exposed, no matter how many times help isn’t needed, tell the precious people in my life, “I love you. ”  Maycee says it over and over, “I love you, Mommy.”  And, what’s more, she waits to hear it back from me.  Sometimes the moments seem planned (like after half the tub’s water is on the bathroom floor because she tried swimming while I was getting her jammies), but ultimately, I know that deep down, more than anything else, she needs to hear the words.   

I would not be what I consider a “good” mom if I didn’t have Maycee’s back when she was in trouble, perceived or real.  I also like to think that the words of wisdom I passed onto her as she cried in my arms from the “wimpy kid who knows” were helpful and served as an aide to guide and strengthen her confidence and character as she faced this situation at school amongst her new peers.  But, as I lay in bed Friday night reviewing the sequence of events my heart within couldn’t deny that my Second Grader was teaching me all along, if not more so, than I was teaching her.  We went on to have an amazing time at Fort Hope catching fish, making butter, panning for gold and enjoying the day’s adventures.  Oh, and please go ahead and guess one of the other little girls who was also part of the group…need a hint?  Nah…

They don't call it Fort Hope for nothin'!

Remember: “God loves you. Have a great day.  Be strong.”  Did Maycee or I come up with that first?  Okay, Readers, tell me what you think the answer is, and as always give a chuckle (wink).

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4 responses

  1. First, I love this entry. Second, GO MAYCEE!

    I remember what I thought parenthood would be while I was pregnant. It’s such a different thing than I imagined. Sure, I teach Li’l D some things, but far and away I find myself learning more from him than vice versa. (Dude’s not even two yet!)

    Reading this has me excited to see what else I’ll learn from him as he and I grow. Together. ♥

    Rock on, mama!

  2. What a strong, well adjusted gal you’re raising, Kasey! It’s not easy without a manual. May we always be open minded enough to see the lessons in all of those difficult situations. Thank you for sharing yours.

    • Thanks, Karen, and thanks for signing on as a "regular".:-)I'm so happy that Maycee has the gumption to stand up for herself (even if after the fact) and also to not let anything keep her down.Ever.She amazes me right and left.

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