“How did you know what to take to class when you had lockers?” she asked for the third time.
“At first I just took a notebook of paper and a pencil. Later, I had a book I knew I was supposed to take to each class.” I answered, again.
A little while later, she asked, “When did they tell you what you should bring to class with you?”
I replied, “The first day, I always just took a notebook and something to write with. The teacher would tell us that day what was expected of us.”
“Oh, okay,” she sighed.
I let go. For a little while, I let it go. But Alyssa is a fretter. She can’t help it. Her mind picks up something and worries it to death.
She did this before kindergarten started all those years ago. She did it the night before starting first grade at a new school. She did it the night before riding the bus for the first time. She worries. She can’t help it.
It’s my job as her mom to try and reassure her when the worrying gets to be too much.
And I can tell when it gets to be too much when she starts asking the same question over and over, wording it slightly differently but basically asking the same question. She’s worried. Fifth grade is bringing with it some unknown issues and it scares her.
So I finally put my arm around her and told her, “You know, Sweetie, your teachers are on your side. They want you to succeed. They want all of you to succeed. They’re not the enemy, looking for some way to trip you up. I promise you that your teacher will tell you exactly what you should bring to class. She’ll also tell you if things change and you should bring something different to class. You are not being set up to fail. I promise.”
She laughed and said, “They’re on my side?”
“Yes,” I told her. “Just like I’m on your side. I totally want you to succeed and I will help you do so any way I can.”
She leaned in to me and sighed. She relaxed for a minute.
Will the worry come back? Of course it will. Will we have a tough time going to sleep on Monday night? Damn right we will. We’ll talk and talk and talk until she is so tired she can’t form sentences and I will reassure her until I’m out of breath and the only thing that is going to take away her worry is getting through the first day.
After that? Fifth grade is going to be a breeze. But nothing I say will convince her of that. That first day will do all the convincing. Until then, though, I’m here, on her side, helping her succeed.