Tales of a First Grade Basket Case (Me, Not Her)

Tales of a First Grade Basket Case (image)

Rhiannon GilesRhiannon Giles
Blogger at rhiyaya.com | Mom of Two

I’m astoundingly good at taking my own experiences and anxieties and making them into new anxieties about my daughter Lorelei’s experiences. I’m like a anxiety superhero or something.

Lorelei started first grade yesterday, and I’ve been putting out low-grade anxiety fires every time I think about it. This is the age where I can look back and really start to pinpoint some of the earliest truly anxious memories I have.

I cried every morning for six weeks. My mom put a family photo in my lunchbox, and I was scolded by the teacher for looking at it too often. It’s not just the fact of this that I remember, it’s the feeling. I can still connect to that scared and anxious six year old.

I had never been through the lunch line, because I was scared I would not understand how it worked, or would drop my tray, or would do something wrong. I was in the third grade before I bought my lunch. I remember a day in first grade, during lunch, when I needed a napkin. The napkins were near the end of the line, which was inside a separate room . I got up courage and walked across the cafeteria, easing past students waiting to pay. As I tried to break in line just to grab a napkin, the teacher shook her head at me with a stern look, reinforcing my fear of mistakes. I can still connect with this, too. Probably because I’ve felt it so many times since.

Lorelei sometimes has a similar fear of being unintentionally wrong, or feeling like she is being laughed at. So it was easy for me to be nervous of her starting first grade.

Instead, she was annoyed with me. Why? Because I walked to her classroom with her the first day, rather than just dropping her off in the car line. Today she was firm in her decision to be dropped off, not walked in. It was my plan, anyhow, but she wanted to make sure. She hopped out of her booster, gave me a quick kiss, and walked into that school building with her back straight and her head high.

She had a great day yesterday. And while I’m sure there will be hiccups along the way, it serves as an important reminder that our children are not us. That she will have her own set of worries, and I need to dissociate her from mine. By being hyper-focused in my watchfulness for her to inherit my own anxieties, I might miss out on the chance to help her through hers.

And, evidently, first grade is not one of them.

This post was originally posted at rhiyaya.com on 8/30/16.

Rhiannon GilesAbout Rhiannon Giles

Rhiannon is an overwhelmed mother who only occasionally considers giving her children to the circus. She has a sarcasm problem and writes regularly at rhiyaya.com. To keep up with new posts and see some of her favorites, join her on Facebook.

View all posts by Rhiannon Giles here.

0 Comments on “Tales of a First Grade Basket Case (Me, Not Her)”

  1. It is hard to let them go. I had more anxiety than my kids lol She will be fine as she has a great mother watching over her from afar.

  2. My son currently started Grade 1 as well. He has been struggling with severe separation anxiety lately. We’re getting through it slowly and hoping it will get better soon.

  3. I do not remember not liking starting school. But our oldest kid just started kindergarten so it definitely has been an experience for us. Just put a positive spin on it all and you could be amazed as how well she loves it all. Our kids are not for us to live through or to re-experience past events.

    1. Yes! That’s so well said. And we’re glad to hear school is going well for you new kindergatener!

  4. This post is a great reminder of not unconsciously unloading our fears, anxieties and some bad or different habits onto our children. I try to keep this in mind especially when it comes to trying new foods. Just because I won’t eat something doesn’t mean they can’t give it a try and possibly like it. I feel like first grade is tough for the parents more so the kids because they are already showing more independence and opions vs Kindergarten.

    1. Yes! It’s good to hear that you are so consciously making sure that you don’t transfer your fears to your kids, Alicia!

  5. My first grader had no issues with going back to school. She is such a big girl. When I was her age, I used to throw up every morning before the bus came. I’m not sure if I was really excited or anxious but my little girl is so much stronger than I was!

  6. Your article gave me such a chuckle! My grand daughter is in 1st grade so I can relate as my grand daughter is quite the little pistol herself. Sounds like your daughter will be just fine. :)

  7. Those 1st day jitters are hard on a little one, I prepared mine by communicating. I also walked him in until he felt comfortable doing this on his own. It did not take long for him. Thanks for sharing

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