During her evening serving of Jello (this week’s flavor: strawberry lemonade) Olivia informed me that the recess teacher had told the second graders that if they wanted, they could bring a toy to play with at recess.
Alyssa was quick to interject, “I don’t think you should take anything, Livie. Kids always seem to lose or break their toys during recess.”
Liv looked to me for confirmation of this new information.
I shrugged, “If you want to take something, you can. Just take something that isn’t all that important to you.”
She returned my shrug and took a bite of her Jello.
After she swallowed she told me, “The recess teacher told us to play in the mulch or on the cement. She doesn’t want us to play in the dirt.”
“Do you play in the dirt?” I asked her, motioning her to continue eating so we could get done with the snack and brush her teeth.
She obliged my urge to eat and then continued our conversation, “No, I never play in the dirt. Sometimes I swing but other times I just sit and wait for recess to be over.”
Sigh. My poor baby. I think she wants to play with the other kids but just doesn’t know how.
I distracted her by asking, “Why does the recess teacher want you guys to stay out of the dirt?”
Liv showed me her hands, pointing to her fingernails. “Because when we play in the dirt, we get the dirt under our fingernails and it takes forever in the restrooms after recess to get our hands clean.”
For some reason, that made her giggle like crazy.
I laughed along with her because, well, her giggle is contagious. “Well,” I said when I caught my breath, “I guess you should be using your time at school to be learning instead of having to wash dirt out from under your fingernails.”
She nodded wisely and ate the last of her Jello.
I asked her every day if she talked to her ‘friends’ that day. She usually either shrugs or says that she didn’t. I try to walk that fine line of giving her time to mature and encouraging her to keep trying.
I mean, look how far she’s come in four years. Her first year of school she didn’t even talk to her teacher, so the fact that she does talk to her teachers and aides, is a big step, but she’s in second grade. Friendships are forming, these kids are getting social. Some kids are even having sleepovers. Not that Olivia, even if she were invited, would want to go to a sleepover at this stage in her life but just talking to a classmate in the hall would be so awesome for her.
I am so lucky she uses her words with me. I am so incredibly blessed that she talks to me every single day, that she tells me stories, makes up dreams each morning to tell me. How do I know she makes them up? Because she waits until Alyssa has told us what she dreamed about the night before and then Liv will brighten up and declare that she ALSO dreamed that exact same thing. She always embellishes, which is awesome and I’m so glad her imagination allows her to make up dreams but yeah, they’re made up. I kind of love her that much more because of it.
I feel really lucky that she does actually speak to her teachers, that she’s comfortable enough with most of the adults at school that she’ll talk to them, interact with them, tell them about her home life almost as much as she tells me about her school life.
But I wat more for her; I want her to have what almost every other kids has. I want her to have friends. I want school to be about more than the academic work. I want it to be fun, I want her to be social and tell me about her friends.
I know I’m probably being selfish, I mean, this child TALKS and she WALKS and she’s RUNS and she READS and she converses with me. She can tell me where it hurts when she’s sick, she can tell me when she’s sad or when she’s mad. She can inform her dad in no uncertain terms when she’s done eating and let him know that nothing he says will change the fact that she is not going to another bite of what he’s offering.
But selfish or not, I want more. I want it not for me. I had my childhood and my friends and my social life. I want it for my daughter. I want her peers, her classmates, to get to know her, to see how funny, how sweet, how imaginative she is. I want her to have someone her own age to listen to her stories and share her dreams, made up or not.
Okay, I’m owning it. I want it all for Olivia. I want as much for her as I want for Alyssa. I’m their mother, it’s my job, my calling to want more for them and to help them find ways to get it.