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Blog Posted in avatar   Hessie Jones's Blog

Anxiety and the First Day of School

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By Hessie Jones
Posted Sep 7, 2010 in Lifestyle
It never occurred to me how important the first day of school was... especially for two kids (10 and 8-years) who were seemingly old hat at it! Yesterday, my daughter, the 10 year-old, relayed her uneasiness to me. She had trouble sleeping and seemed a bit anxious. I asked her to lay beside me and that's when she said that she was worried because she had a new teacher and because her best friends were in different classes. She wasn't sure what to expect but was not comfortable starting school this way.
I told her a story of when I started school in Grade 11. It was at this time that the school had failed to process my classes for the first semester. So, I was left without a schedule or where to go. It would take a few days to get this sorted out so.... in the meantime I was put in some "temporary" classes. I went to the classes but I kind of felt out of place. I knew I wouldn't be there permanently so it didn't make sense to listen or even participate. So the second day, I decided to ditch classes altogether! Feeling totally lost, I just walked around the empty school yard and its neighbourhood trying to figure out how I would buy more time. I got depressed and hung out at the corner store and loaded up on some junk food until lunch when I could hang out with friends again. It took more than a few days.... try almost a week before I was given a schedule. While it wasn't a long time, it was an eternity for me. When it finally happened, I was in my glory. I dove into work and I was excited that I was once again back in the mainstream with everyone else." It took some time but it all came together. While I felt lost and alone, I didn't give up and kept the faith that life would be normal again.
Sometimes we forget that our kids' experiences are still pretty narrow compared to what we've been through. The smallest anxiety is "huge" to them and consumes their whole being even if it is for a short time. While I would normally have a "get-over-it" attitude, I've learned to put myself once again in the shoes of a pre-teen, still vying for peer acceptance and normalcy.
My advice to my daughter: Take one day at a time. Make some new friends. Get to know the teacher and give her a chance. Don't expect everything to come together all at once. You'll be fine. And I'll be here.
... and soon she fell asleep with a smile on her face.

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