This was the look on Smunch's face as he walked out of school on his last day of first grade. This wasn't exactly what I was expecting when I brought the camera, but it's probably the look I deserved for trying to preserve his last minute as a first grader.
It was so much harder than I'd expected it to be. Maybe it's because I was the room mom this year. I got to know his teacher pretty well. I was in the classroom a lot. I talked to all the parents so I kinda knew everyone. I knew all the kids well enough to have opinions about all of them...and to have corrected my errant first impressions of some of them. Smunch made new friends and so did I.
But maybe it was how much Smunch grew this past school year. Naturally, I don't mean he's suddenly tall. That sort of growth isn't his strong suit. He just changed so much. It's hard to believe he was the kid who really, really didn't want to go to his second day of first grade after being completely overwhelmed on day one. Gosh, I still get teary re-reading that entry. That second day? That was the last day he said he didn't want to go to school.
He quickly made a best friend...something he'd never, ever had before. And his teacher wasn't so scary after all, even if this wasn't quite what Smunch had in mind when I asked if I could take a picture of him with her. He started off the year playing with a group of other first graders in the sand box, but by the end of the year he was playing "shoot out" with a group of 3rd graders every recess. (I don't know what that is, except that it's vaguely basketball-related.) They autographed his T-shirt before the last day of school. So much for the big, scary playground and lunch recess that was too long.
Despite having very obvious struggles to speak in class, when I was there and the teacher asked for volunteers, his hand always shot straight up along with those of all the other kids. And he didn't hesitate to speak, even if it was hard for him to get through whatever he wanted to say. And it changed him outside school as well. My kid who wouldn't dare go to a counter and ask for a cookie or ice cream, even when he had the money in his hand? He now brings his own money to swim class and goes and asks for his favorite cookie when he's done swimming. And at the bowling alley last week? When they didn't have the ball he needed, he not only went up to the counter to ask (they keep the light balls back there), but when the guy wasn't at the counter, he went and tracked him down!
He's getting so independent and has gained so much self-confidence. He's happy. He's looking forward to being a second grader, but psyched to have summer first...even though he doesn't know a single kid going to any of the camps he wanted to go to. They're mostly sports camps, so he's not going to care.
And then there's that. How many kids can sit through a baseball game? Sure you can make them, or at least tolerate the fidgeting, but how many of them are actually riveted to everything going on? That kid loves baseball in ways I can't quite begin to fathom. So, the NHL playoffs ended yesterday. He can tell you who won, but it's not a big deal. And the NBA playoffs are going on. He doesn't seem to care. Hey, Michael Phelps is swimming in a local swim meet. Couldn't care less. But he couldn't sleep tonight, not knowing the final score of the SF Giants game. He's going to drive some poor woman crazy someday.
Until then, he's seven and Mam is five and it's summer. What could be happier?