second rising

It's been a wild ride. First grade came in like a mack truck, rolling fast, with failing brakes on a downhill. The year held such promise and though at times the road felt quite steep, we forged ahead. We all learned. Caroline learned how to handle expectations; those she held for herself and those others held for her. We learned what a hard worker she was, how resilient she can be. Caroline learned that the sky was the limit and we learned that the sky is a lot higher than we thought. The growth was more than height, more than reading, writing, or even new math. (I am so happy to say goodbye to new math for the summer.) She grew in everyway imaginable.

There were times in this year when Steve and I perhaps unnecessarily wrung our hands in worry. We worked hard to remain positive, but gone were the "it will all be ok" feelings we naively had in Pre-School and even Kindergarten. We teetered along learning how best to approach homework, bigger assignments, learning sight words, phonics rules (that silent e is a killer), quiet reading time. We labored through our emerging reader's bedtime routine. No parent ever loved having their child's bedtime extended many, many more minutes than scheduled while listening to them struggle through "See Dick. See Dick run." We walked the fine line often between encouragement and pushing in the name of learning. She learned a ton this year and we learned twice as much.

Lessons in marriage - a timeline; sharing time, sharing space, sharing funds, sharing nighttime diaper duty, sharing discipline, sharing the responsibility of supporting a student. Remember back in the day when the biggest disagreement was who left the bowl in sink? Remember when you actually had time to go line by line through the transactions on your bank account? Oh, my husband still somehow finds time for that. I'm still always at the ready to defend a Dunkin' run or a great pair of shoes I found at Marshall's. (Thank GOD he does as he just discovered fraudulent activity today! It is rather odd that he found it after I had already drafted this!) Somehow when the marital debate moves on to how to approach your first grader's homework, this is where you will both draw lines in the sand and dig your heels in deeply. You will each reflect on how you learned, how you think she learns, and you will express great emotion defending your own position on how to move forward. It just gets harder folks. We weren't on the same page at all in September, but we came together in ways we hadn't before. We negotiated and compromised on an appropriate approach to supporting her education. It wasn't easy, but the best indicator of the good job we did is that she has no idea we struggled with it so much.

It's worth all the debate and energy when you see the last entry in your first grader's writing notebook, written on the very last day of school.


On her last night as a first grader, she wrote a letter to her treasured teacher who spoke quickly and effectively during our parent teacher conferences, the one who told us she was a hard worker and she could do this.

Time speeds up. They hit school and POOOOOF. She explained to her brother earlier this week on the ride home that "once you hit number grades, it's a lot of work, there isn't playtime anymore, and you have to do your best." A summer of camp, swimming, and fun lies ahead of her and before I can even acclimate to our new normal, she'll be picking out her first day of second grade outfit.

How does she feel about second grade? There were some tears tonight.

We made a deal to not worry about second grade yet as she sat in my lap, her body completely wrapped around mine, tears staining my shirt. We have a whole summer to celebrate and enjoy. We have a plan to fight the "summer brain drain" that even I'm excited about. It involves sewing, the United States, dolphins, and cooking.

I'm so incredibly proud of this kid. She continues to surprise us, but needs so much encouragement. She is both confident and cautious, sure of herself and full of self doubt, hurts your ears enthusiastic and painfully shy. Our Caroline is becoming a more fine tuned version of the person she will become and her wings are coming in faster and more fully than I ever could have anticipated.

She also apparently wants to be The Pioneer Woman.



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