No New Friends
This year as I waved goodbye on the first day of school to my fifth grader and kindergartner, I felt a sadness that I haven't felt on the first day of school in years. My family relocated over the summer, which meant a new school for both boys. My oldest entering his final year of elementary school and my youngest starting his journey into the school system hit me harder than I thought it would. I was essentially putting my babies in the care of strangers, a feeling I haven't felt in years.
My oldest would be fine. He is an extrovert, a trait inherited from his father. He will flash his smile, say something funny, and wit his way into the other fifth graders' social circles. My youngest should be fine, he is an introvert, a trait sadly inherited from his mom, but in his case everyone is new. Clearly, someone would meet him and think he is a great as we do, right? I thought about this ALL DAY at work. Seriously, all day. They are fine, I kept telling myself as I glanced periodically of the images, I snapped of them that morning before I dropped them off.
When I could no longer take the waiting, I left work excited to hear about their day. For my oldest, his day was great, the new school exceeded his expectations (he literally is keeping a running tally of how one area of the school outperforms or under performs the other). He met new friends, enjoyed his lunch, and is excited about the idea of changing classes. Oh, the life of an extrovert.
For my youngest, it was the worst day ever. He swears he is the only new person in the class (Honey, its kindergarten, everyone is new. My attempts to convince him fell flat), lunch was ok, but he ate alone, no one asked him his name, and no one played with him on the playground. With tears in his eyes, he looked at me and asked me what he needed to do to make a friend. It was the saddest, and sweetest moment wrapped into one.
As the two introverts shared this moment, I told my youngest about my life as the forever new girl. I moved so many times in my life that both my mom and I lost count of how many elementary schools I attended, but I know that I went to two middle schools, and two high schools. As an introvert, you must dig deep to put yourself in the friend selection pool. It's hard work.
My advice to my little one:
Be patient – You're awesome, give the kids in your class a few days to notice
Look for moments – Try to sit next to a new person at lunch and see how it goes
Ask an important question - Who likes slides? That should work on five-year old’s, right?
The first week of school will end with my oldest having so many friends, that he can't remember all their names, and three friends for my youngest. Did my advice work? Who knows? What I do know is that he's happy now, which makes me happy. I remember the struggle of trying to find a friend after each move, and the fact that he crossed that hurdle in less than a week is an excellent start to his first year of school.