Monday, November 11, 2013

Slice of Life - Memories from a Book

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Two Writing Teachers

Monday night I laid down the law, Liam had to clean out his bookshelf. For an eight-year-old boy, his shelves were full to bursting. By a rough estimate, he had well over three hundred books in his room, board books, Spot books, all the way through the chapter books he is currently reading. While I am a fan of choice, he often lamented that he had nothing to read, which I felt was because it was overwhelming to try and find a book. I sent him in to clear out anything he doesn’t want to read and bring them to my room. He happily set about that task. 

Load after load came into my room to sort for Goodwill. Liam was a relentless purger; he needs to come tackle my classroom library. As he worked I heard him call out, “Mom, I found one that’s too special to get rid of.”

He came in and put this sticker on my hand. It was like being punched in the gut with a flood of memories.

For Luke, the transition to preschool was pretty seamless. He was already in daycare daily; heading to another spot with more kids was no big deal. With Liam, everything was an undertaking. Dropping him off at daycare produced a few tears the first few times, but he got past it. Preschool was that times a million.

One of the first days of preschool the speech teacher emailed me how adorable Liam was and how she enjoyed holding him to help his tears stop while she was in the room. It seemed he cried for the entire two hours he was there. This continued for many weeks. The teachers were wonderful, the school was terrific, but my little guy’s heart was breaking – and so was mine.

We tried everything to no avail. He cried through school pictures, snack, art projects, and more. Finally, I purchased the book The Kissing Hand after reading about it online. Liam and I cuddled up that night to read it and I showed him the stickers in the back. I told him the next day I would put one in his hand and he would be fine when he went to school because he would know I was with him.

The next morning I prepared the boys to head over to daycare and I brought Liam the stickers. He shook his hand and whispered that he didn’t want one, it would fall off and the power would be gone. Thinking quickly, I grabbed a Sharpie. I quickly kissed his hand and drew a heart on his palm. I told him to hold it tight and see if he felt better. He nodded and off to daycare they went.

A few hours later I was in my normal teaching routine and I passed by my desk computer. Glancing at my email, I noticed one from Liam’s preschool teacher. Opening it up and skimming it, I immediately gasped and quickly sat down. My student Nathan quickly looked at me and asked what was wrong.

I fought back tears as I tried to explain. Liam’s kind teacher had emailed to tell me of his breakthrough. He hadn’t shed one tear yet that day since being dropped off by his daycare provider. He was quiet, of course, but was tear free. The only thing he was doing that was a bit odd, she mentioned, was that his fist was clutched against his heart the entire morning. I looked at Nate with the tears threatening to overflow and explained, his fist was keeping my kiss in and his hand was on his heart so he would know I was there. How badly I wanted to rush out of my classroom, race across town, and hold my brave little boy. I swallowed it down, stood up, and taught instead.

Parenting is tough. The challenges change as they grow, but the reward of knowing these people is huge. Looking at my big eight-year-old today, I can hardly remember a time when I had to help him to be brave. But the memories are there, just below the surface – for him and for me.

Yes, Liam, you are correct. This book is too special to be donated. This is part of our story – yours and mine.