Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What Really Matters

carefree is the way to be!
I had a lot of plans for Aiden this summer. Amidst playground hopping and long pool days and adventures around the city, I was going to work with him on core subjects. Practice writing strong paragraphs, learn all multiplication facts, and re-practice all of his second grade spelling words so that he doesn't forget them.

In short, I was gonna get him into shape and get him ready for third grade.

Well, summer's coming to a close and we hardly did any of that.

The only writing he did aside from his summer homework project was when he wanted to write a story of two. The only spelling he did was go over words that he forgot how to spell whenever he was typing something into his iPad. And there was no memorization of multiplication facts at all. (There was, however, the practicing and re-memorization of all of the addition and subtraction facts from 2nd grade.)

Be we -- he -- solved lots of math problems. Hard ones, too. Multiplication and division ones and multi-step ones too. Oh, and he read a lot. Chapter books about mysteries and about his history and about pulling pranks on friends and about a group of boys in the third grade doing third-grade boy things... just like him. And books about what it takes to be a good friends and make tough decisions and choosing to be kind instead of always choosing to be right.

He learned a lot of lessons. Hard ones, too.

Lessons that he talks to me about day in and day out.

working the Momtrends runway
photo via Momtrends
And that's when it dawned on me: I don't have to spend the entire summer trying to frantically teach him everything.

I don't have to drill academics into him all... day... long... just to "get him ready for third grade."

Because, quite frankly, that's impossible. But what I can do is instill in him kindness, generosity, a strong work ethic, responsibility, and how to be respectful.

What I can do is teach him how to build sandcastles and run away from waves at the beach... how to indulge in grilled cheese sandwiches while watching the sunset on our balcony... how to spend hours and hours and hours at the NYC playground of his choice... how to close out museums and science centers because he's so busy learning though play that we're literally the last ones to leave.

How to know when he's reached his limit on his iPad and how to enjoy childhood, unplugged.

Basically... how to be a kid. Fully, whole-heartedly, and unapologetically.

photo via Momtrends
The fact of the matter is that I have all school year to help him become a stronger writer. I have all school year to help him learn multiplication facts and I have all school year to help him memorize spelling words.

And the fact of the matter is that it really doesn't matter if he gets the best grades in school. It really doesn't matter if he's the smartest or the fastest or the best or the teacher's favorite. Those things don't really matter. Because, quite frankly, I'm gonna love him anyway.

The kid's already a champion in my eyes.

What really matters is if he's kind to others, if he tries his hardest even when he doesn't feel like trying, if he bounces back from set-backs. What really matters is if he continues to be the rockstar big brother to August. What really matters is if he knows that I love him no matter what and that I will always, always, always be his biggest cheerleader.

What really matters is if he's happy.

What really matters is if he feels free to be a kid. Fully, whole-heartedly, and unapologetically.

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