Since I home school my children, taking them to school usually means yelling down the stairs, “School time!” Today was different. It’s time for the WASL test. Sounds like a festive holiday drink but really it’s the Washington Assessment of Student Learning and puts a bit of fear in the hearts of all the Washington learning students’ mothers.
I had to take Braeden to the Everett Boys and Girls Club for the day. I had him there a little after 8:00 and I can pick him up after 3:00. I was shocked when I first read the schedule a few weeks ago. They really expected me to drop him off to perfect strangers all day for an entire week? I know most mothers of ten year olds in America do that every day. Call me a late bloomer. I mustered my courage and told Braeden in a cheery voice, resolved to be tough for him. Not let him see my anxiety. I didn’t want to stress him out too. When you’re the mother you have to be a pillar of strength. It’s part of the job description.
He said, “Cool!” (C’mon Braeden, could you show a little devastation? For me?)
I’ve had a pit in my stomach for days.
I talked to Adam on the phone last night (still in London). I said, “I wish you were here to tell me that I’m overreacting and he’ll be fine.” He said, “You’re overreacting. He’ll be fine.” Then he added, “It is a pretty big deal though…and he’s never done anything like this.”
I didn’t know whether to be grateful for the validation or not. It is comfortable sometimes to think you’re just overreacting.
So I didn’t sleep well and wasn’t hungry for my breakfast this morning. I made sure Braeden’s little backpack was packed…dictionary, thesaurus, calculator, protractor, two number 2 pencils. I checked and re checked his lunch. Braeden casually ate his Cheerios and made jokes with Emma.
In the van I asked him how he was feeling. He said, “Fine…maybe a little nervous but just because I don’t know what it’s going to be like the first day.” (Do we share the same DNA?) Ever able to read me, he said, “Are you nervous Mom?’
“Oh, no,” I lied, “What do I have to be nervous about?”
We got to the Boys and Girl’s Club and he said, “I can just go in Mom. You don’t have to take me.” What?! I told him I needed to sign him in anyway. While we were walking to the door I thought this whole thing might be easier if he was sobbing and clinging to my leg. I never should have set him down when he was a toddler. He’s been moving away from me ever since and I’m not ready for this.
I shook the hand of the teacher in charge of his testing. She looked very young. Is she reliable? Will she take care of my baby? Braeden walked confidently over to the table to get a nametag and greet the other kids clustered around a table. I thought, I guess that’s it. I walked over to say good-bye, unsure how he’d feel about any display of affection. I said, “Good-bye Braeden.” He said, “See ya Mom,” and threw his arms around my waist in a quick hug.
He knew I needed the reassurance.