This is the last day of school for my third grader. It’s been a long, frustrating, and, at the same time, richly rewarding year. Third grade seems to be a year of transition for my son. He started the year rather young and dependent and has finished an independent, fearless, and more confident fellow. He is growing leaps and bounds and I am noticing each move.
The year was filled with struggles; struggles to write correctly, do work faster and neater, read quicker, understand better, and process more fully. Having an August birthday leaves my son one of the youngest in his class and, although he is much taller than most belying his tender age, he certainly takes months to catch up maturity-wise to his classmates. My son, being the oldest child in the family, has to strike his own path having none to tread from non-existent older siblings like his brother and sister will be able to do if they so choose. He is, thus, young in the true sense of the word; naïve, innocent, and so very gentle. This child, like his parents, still believes in Santa Claus without question, yet does not discuss it with his peers. He relies on a “lovey” from infancy that is still his most cherished and prized possession. And yet, he has taken many of life’s harshest realities and weathered them beautifully. From the death of a beloved great-grandmother to senseless fights he’s encountered at home, hands that refuse to work like others and a body that doesn’t always obey his mind’s commands, my son works tirelessly to rise above his limitations and fears. He never complains when I bring out supplementary work during weekends, school holidays, or the entirety of summer vacations. He may cry in frustration when his handwriting is nearly illegible to himself and me but he never gives up, correcting the sentences over and over again until we can both read them.
Now third grade is behind him. The obstacles that seemed nearly insurmountable are in the past, accomplished. An endless summer to a nearly nine-year-old lies out before him with Cub Scout camp (his first sleepover night away), an inaugural year on a swim team, “Mom School”, and a treasure trove of experiences he cannot even conceive. I look to him with awe and wonder. My child, the one who made me a mother, never ceases to amaze. His enthusiasm, wherewithal, and innocence in this sometimes cold, harsh world is refreshing and endearing. The childlike wails that still accompany frustrations wrench my heart but give me resolve to model strength, fortitude, and coping mechanisms. His small steps into the world of teendom (i.e. not kissing me good-bye when the bus comes) smart a little, but are soothed by his desire to still hold my hand on the way to the bus stop, and “date” me once a month. There is still a lot of work to do; his organizational skills are still lacking, his handwriting needs constant attention, and he needs to follow directions by reading them first, but he’s destined to remember all of that eventually… right?! No matter, I’d take this kid any day of the week and twice on Saturday for the rest of my life. My son is my hero and that is what it’s all about.