Monday, October 06, 2008

a lesson in listening to the second kid...

Today Talia's class took their first Kindergarten field trip to the pumpkin patch to learn about Fall harvests. We'd gotten instructions last week to pack her a sack lunch and to make sure she wore rain boots and warm clothes because most likely the patch would be cold and muddy (it was).

So I dug out her boots that still fit from last year and handed her a brown paper sack and some markers and let her color all over it while I made lunches. This is something she's watched Samuel do a

number of times and in the past, it always made her feel a little jealous to see him working so hard on his field trip lunch sack.

Tali decorated her bag with her name in big letters, lots of flowers, and the big-eyed people she likes to draw. But when she was finished, she told me that she didn't want to go on the trip.

"Really?" I asked. "It sounds like fun. Plus you get to pick out your own little pumpkin," I told her.

"Yeah, but it'll be muddy. I don't want to go," she said. This seemed odd because Tali isn't the kind of girl who usually minds some mud, but I had three lunches to make, mountains of laundry to fold, baths to give, kids to put to bed, blah blah blah.

"You'll love it," I told her. "You'll have fun."

This morning, same thing. She didn't want to go, it'll be too muddy, it won't be fun, and she kept singing the same tune even after Samuel showed a significant amount of envy at the fact that she got to go on a field trip. I dropped her off in her classroom with her booster seat freshly marked with her name, and as I kissed her goodbye, I whispered to her, "It's going to be great. You'll have a great time."

"If you say so," she said with uncertainty. But she didn't cry or make a fuss, so I waved goodbye and left.

As I got into my car, a friend of mine whose son is in Tali's class waved to me and said "Wow, their first field trip. I don't know why I feel so nervous, but it feels big."

"They're fine," I reassured her. "They'll have fun." And what I was secretly thinking was "Come on... It's just a 20 minute drive to the pumpkin patch. Cut the cord, girlfriend!"

And then as I was driving out of the schoolyard I realized what was up--that this was her very, very first school field trip and of course she was nervous. She was a school kid on a school trip. With her school. Not her parents. Or even her daycare.

I felt like such a total tool. She was scared.

Even though she's known some of her friends for years and she's been around the school for years, as well, while picking up or dropping off Samuel, this was new to her. I didn't shed a single tear on her first day of Kindergarten because we'd been through the whole process just a few years ago with Samuel, but this morning after dropping her off, I sobbed all the way home as I thought about my girl feeling fearful and anxious, but not being able to or knowing how to talk about it. I felt guilty about overlooking some of her big moments because we've been there before with her brother. And I felt sad that I'd been too preoccupied with the minutiae of the day that I didn't stop to wonder why she was acting so strangely.

Of course, by the time I picked her up she was gushing about how much fun she'd had and she couldn't wait to show me her special green pumpkin (my girl is not one to follow popular conventions).

I feel like I got a pass this time for not noticing how quickly Tali is growing up. And while I will probably never be one of those moms who puts together a scrapbook for every life event (hell, I still haven't put together my wedding album), I am determined to slow down a little and listen a little more closely.

Oh, and the photos? Taken by one of the moms who obviously felt like the first school field trip was a big deal. I'm so grateful...

3 comments:

Becky said...

awww, Tali. That one picture of her is adorable. Little angel face.

Amy said...

I don't know if anyone has mentioned it, but I can't help but notice that she's some of the sweetest fruit grown! :)

Jennifer said...

First, she is so, so sweet! Aww. Just look at her, all grow(ing) up. *sniff*

Second, I found out yesterday AFTER SCHOOL that Tess had gone on her first field trip that day. Yep, I found out after the fact. Her school is very, very good about keeping parents informed (and inviting parents as chaperones) so obviously I just didn't read the memo (or memos??) at all. As a parent to the second child, I so totally suck. (But maybe that will make you feel better?!)