Last night I attended a meeting for the parents of 5th graders at my children’s school. The purpose of the meeting is for the teachers to lay down the law for the parents. Each year, these back-to-school meetings always feel a little intimidating to me. There is inevitably talk of how ________ grade (insert child’s year in school) is a “transitional year”, expectations will be higher than previously, the children will have a greater level of responsibility, work will be more challenging — all in preparation for the next year, which will be even harder!
At our small, high-performing public school, there seem to be no limits on the quest to push foward to further levels of achievement, as measured, primarily, by end of grade test scores. We never get told, “This is the year the kids get to kick back and rest on their laurels, because if they’ve gotten this far, they’ll be just fine.”
At some point during the meeting, it was mentioned that spelling assignments (and most other work) must be completed in cursive. Immediately, I was worried. Alexander’s handwriting is terrible, and last year, he struggled miserably with writing cursive. Because of this, he’s self-conscious and negative about writing, even though he is a great, imaginative writer.
After the meeting ended, I went into Alexander’s classroom to look around. When I saw his desk, I felt as though someone had turned up the knob on the anxiety-o-meter a few notches. While many students (especially the girls) had written their name tags in neat, loopy cursive, and others had used sturdy block printing, Alexander’s name was written in a shaky scrawl with the letters unevenly spaced and sized. It looked like a much younger child had written it. Only a few parents were still around, so I approached the teacher and told her I was worried about Zander’s hand writing. Instead of the reassurance I was probably angling for, she looked at me and said, “So am I. I intend to keep an eye on it.” Gulp. I left the school feeling unsettled and anxious.
But, as I drove home, I began to challenge my usual way of thinking and feeling. I recognized what was going on, and I knew how worrying about my child could affect me. I also knew there was nothing I could do to fix the problem — at least not at that moment. AND that I was not in control of this situation. So, I challenged myself, for once, not to worry. In fact, not to do anything — no trolling the internet for information about handwriting issues in ten year old boys, no composing a follow-up email to the teacher. Just let it be. Have faith that the teacher will work on it in school and come up with an appropriate plan if necessary. But, more importantly, know that, even if this is a problem, it’s not the end of the world — and my child will be fine.
So, that’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it. New adventures in peace of mind… Stay tuned…