Thursday, April 8, 2010

School blues

“What day is it today?” Josh asks as he stands by my bed in his fuzzy pjs.

“Uh, Wednesday,” I say slowly, before I can even pry my eyes open.

“Oh man, I don’t want to go to school today.” He laments as he buries his face in the sheets.

Now I’m awake. Josh never complains about going to school. He did occasionally last year when he was a bit younger. But we changed preschools this year, and until now, he has always been happy to go.

As I pull him up into bed with me for our morning snuggles, my mind races with potential reasons for this sudden turnaround. Has he been afraid to tell me he doesn’t like the new school? Is another child bullying him? Did he get in trouble on Monday? Did I make the wrong choice last summer when I decided to move him?

Josh curls his warm body into a ball, and I pull him to me. “Why don’t you want to go to school, my little snugglebug?” I ask, while I brace for the inevitable answer that will prove I have somehow scarred him for life with my inept parenting.

He's quiet for a moment.

“Because I don’t like my Velcro shoes,” he complains as he looks up at me.

There it is. The earth-shattering burden he has been carrying all these months. He doesn’t like his school shoes — the one pair he knows he can get as sandy as he wishes.

I look into his big green eyes. His blond hair frames his little round face, as he anxiously returns my gaze. He smells like a little boy: a mixture of sweat, love, and laundry detergent.

“Why don’t you like them?” I ask.

“Because they’re too hard to put on by myself.”

I pull him tighter to me as I consider his dilemma.

“I could help you put them on. Would that help?”

He looks up at me. I see his expression turn from consternation to relief.

“OK!” he exclaims.

Then he says it — as I've heard him say it so many times before. “Mommy, I love you so much!” And he flings his arms around my neck.

I kiss the top of his head and whisper, “I love you, too.” And all I can do is wish that all his problems will be this easy to resolve.

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