There are times, as a parent, when I know I look stupid. When I can step back from myself, see the situation and pretend that I don't know the backstory - and yeah, I look like an idiot. But I'm not. I'm just a mom. A mom who's doing her best and doesn't always do it right. With a son who's trying his best, and doesn't know for sure that he can do it without me yet. So I'm okay looking like an idiot. Because I know, and he knows, that I'm just doing the best that I can to help my son to be the best he can be.
My six year old doesn't like new things. He's not a boy who thrives on change, shall we say. It took him the better part of year to adjust to being born, for instance. He's still pretty sure that this, right now, is good. He's perplexed that we'd ever want to change, that we might someday move, or get a new car. Or start school. To the point where he's literally repeating kindergarten, and is kicking academic butt. He's capable of first grade work, but still tries (really, really hard, some days) to stay home every morning because the thought of dancing out the door to spend six hours without his mother baffles and infuriates him.
So starting a new religious school is hard for him. Our religious school merged with the two reform synagogues to start one cohesive school that, unfortunately for him, expanded the size of his class from four to fourteen and moved it to a new location. And he's straight up horrified by it. The first day was last week, and it was miserable. He refused to go into the room at all, so I went in, with my toddler, and sat in the corner. My two year old LOVES it. She plops her little self down in the circle, is an active participant. Raises her hand at inopportune moments, and claims that yes, she knows the Hebrew alphabet (she doesn't). My poor boy spent most of the first day with his head buried in my lap, moaning when I tried to shove him off of me.
Today, he cried for a half hour about going. This is HEBREW SCHOOL. I want him to love this. I don't want THIS to be a struggle. So we compromised. I'd go, and I wouldn't leave him - but he had to participate. He couldn't cling. AND HE DID IT. I was so proud of him. He glanced back at me every few minutes, and a couple of times I had to remind him that he needed to participate with the class if he wanted me to stay, but he did it.
But it did mean that when the other mom, a good friend of mine, came over and said "the other moms are all over there talking, why don't you join us?" I had to shake my head. "Nope, I have to stay here." She looked at my son, who looked, at that moment, like he was happy and having fun, and gave me a look like I was ... an idiot. Clearly, he's fine. Why was I still here? Can't I let go? I know what she was thinking, but I also know that I wasn't leaving. He was fine, and it was light years better than last week, but it was a fragile victory, and could have been lost in an instant, had I disappeared to sit and socialize with the other moms. I know that. I know I look like an idiot. But one of the things I love most about him is that he challenges me more than anyone else to try harder, to do what's best for him despite how it looks to everyone else. And this was what was best for him.
He learned today that he kind of likes Hebrew school. He learned that he was safe, and he had friends there, and that he fit in. He wouldn't have been brave enough, not yet, to learn that without me there. Without me smiling in the doorway. He didn't need to be in my arms, he didn't need to be on my lap. But today, he needed to see me. He needed to be able to glance over and see me smiling encouragingly. He needed that. So I'm okay with looking like an idiot. And on the upside, I know absolutely that when it comes time for my youngest to go to school, she'll ditch me like a hot potato. Because at two, she's already a viable active member of the first grade class at religious school.