In a few days, God willing and the creek don’t rise, James Martin, my four-year-old, will begin preschool. I will admit that I’ve been stressing and worrying over this for many, many months. As he begins his journey into education, I will be in the midst of my journey as an educator. I’m about to enter my eighth year of teaching, and this does NOTHING to appease the anxiety I have about James starting school. I see, everyday, the kids who don’t do well in school, kids who don’t enjoy school, and kids who are wholly misunderstood by the system. Most of these kids meet all three of those criteria. I am terrified that my James will become one of them, so I pray every day for understanding and wise teachers, for my own abilities as a teacher to carry over into my duties as a parent, for James to see school as a place of new possibilities and a gateway to unlimited knowledge. There is so much his teacher won’t know about him that I wish she could know. If I could tell her all she needs to know, this is what I would say.
Let me first say that I am in awe of the fact that you can control twenty four-year-olds at once. Wow! I can deal with teens all day and not break a sweat, but a room full of preschoolers is absolutely terrifying to me. My hat is off to you!
I just want you to know that James is a really sweet boy deep down. However, I should warn you that every emotion that James feels, he feels through his core. There is no in-between with this boy. If he’s happy, he’s over the roof. If he’s mad, he’s probably going to throw something over the roof. You will not find yourself wondering how James is feeling today. He wears his emotions right there on his sleeve, both sleeves, actually. You’ll see what I mean.
That is one reason he feels so passionately about things. If he is interested in doing something, he will not do it halfway. He will sit for hours putting together his choo choo tracks or beating a level on Super Mario Bros. Please don’t try to label him ADD or ADHD. He is very active, but he can focus when he wants to… it just might not be on what it is you’re teaching that day, and I’m sorry if that happens.
I should also tell you that he is not just very active. He actually never stops moving, unless he’s asleep. If you really need him to be totally still, you can tell him to be a statue. “If you move, you lose.” Anything that is a competition, gets him going. However, he is a really bad loser, and I take full responsibility for that. I hate to lose, and he inherited that trait straight from me, not his calm, reasonable father who loses as honorably as he wins. I apologize for that. There will be actual tears if he loses a game. We’re working on it…
Also, he really dislikes singing and coloring. I know these two things are both main ingredients in the preschool classroom, so this could be an issue. He will sing to his baby brother, and he’ll color with me, but the attention to it is usually limited. Perhaps if it’s a picture of a monster truck or a dinosaur? He is a very manly little boy with what I presume to be a LOT of testosterone coursing through his veins, which explains his obsession with dinosaurs, anything with wheels, bathroom humor, and his own man area. I’m sure you’re accustomed to this. He is, as the saying goes, all (and I mean ALL) boy.
I will also warn you that he’s really loud. I’m sure it won’t take you long to notice. When he was born, the nurses claimed that he had the best set of lungs that they’d heard that whole week in the maternity ward. He has a naturally loud voice, and he loves to be loud. If he is in a room that echoes, such as a public restroom, he will be loud on purpose because he loves to hear himself echo. He thinks it’s hilarious, which leads to giggling, which leads to more echoing… it’s an endless cycle until you usher him out the door.
The last thing I guess you should know is that he’s extremely strong-willed. If you tell him that he can’t do something, he might just do it anyway. He will call your bluff, so be ready to back yourself up. He will even willingly take the consequences (time out, spanking, etc.) just so he can do whatever it is he is wanting to do. We’ve been trying for years to break some of the stubbornness, but it’s been in vain. He is getting better with age, so perhaps you’ll be able to work some magic on him 🙂
If you want to win him over, tell him that you like his big muscles. He’s all about being a big boy. Ask him about his baby brother, Kody. He is the proudest big brother that there ever was. Laugh at his jokes (he loves to entertain). Tell him to show you how fast he is when you go outside. He will love you. I know that you can bring out the best in him and that you will all of the good he has to offer, underneath that loud, stubborn, wild little exterior. He loves to hug and kiss when he’s happy, so get ready to be loved on. Thank you, in advance, for taking care of my boy. I hope you can see him the way I do and love him the way I love my students. Have a good year!