School: for some, a nightmare to even think about. For others, like yours truly, a prime opportunity to shove my extroversion down the throats of anyone within arm’s reach. That being said, from the time I found out what school even was, I couldn’t wait to go. The activities! The people! The socializing! It all sounded so fantastic to my three-year-old self. Unfortunately, though, my brother, only 18 months my senior, left me and went off to pre-school without me. I was so abandoned! I clung to my Grammy and Grampa, my babysitters, as my newfound playmates, and there’s video footage of me talking ceaselessly while my Grampa sits there and repeatedly says, “uh-huh..yep..” to prove it. It was sad for us all.
Why is this memory from over twenty years ago so fresh in my mind now? Well, my second-born son, my dazzling little extrovert, has been left in the dust as his older brother, 17 months his senior, has started pre-school. I feel your pain, little guy! Some days, he gets a little bummed, and from what he’s said, I can tell he’s itching to start school himself (you’ll regret this when you have to write that term paper your junior year of high school in my English class–lolz). To make matters a little easier on the poor kid, I’ve implemented some strategies to make him feel included.
- Feed him breakfast in the car. Yep, just like his school-aged brother, I let him scarf down a cold pop-tart on our commute to his babysitter’s house each morning. There’s something about the thrill of rushing to eat your sub-par breakfast before you arrive somewhere that just screams, school day! It thrills him, and he promptly requests his cold pop-tart each morning after he’s buckled into his car seat. (If anyone asks, yes, I’d like a car detailing gift card for Christmas).
- Let him pack a backpack. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a real backpack. My little fella has adopted a Halloween Mickey Mouse trick-or-treat bag as his “backpack.” He puts lots of random shit in there: a toy truck, a pair of underwear, an acorn. It’s not what’s inside that counts, but the status of being a legit backpack-carrying big kid that really matters.
- Convince him that his babysitters are his school friends. I could tell that he was feeling a little blue when his brother told stories about his school friends, so I convinced him that his grandparents, who babysit him, are his school friends! (Hey, that’s what I had to do when I was a kid, too). So now he’ll tell me, “My friend Poppy fed me Brussels sprouts!” Or “My friend Poppy took me to the park.” His friends spoil him, so it’s even better than actual kid friends who mostly just cough on you.
- Give him homework. His enthusiasm is at an all-time high for homework. He tried to take over his brother’s first at-home project, and I physically had to wrestle a glue stick out of his hand to prevent him from doing all of the work. Now, I give him random things to do and tell him it’s his homework: pick up your toys, it’s your homework!Color this picture, it’s your homework! Feed the dog, it’s your homework! It benefits me, okay?
- Play school. So the older brother now wants to be a teacher (and a police officer and a fire fighter and also a fire hydrant [wait, what!?]), so we have to play school. He’ll hold up a book for his little bro and show him where the spine is and how to determine whether it’s a hard or soft cover book. He makes him practice his colors and practice counting and letters. It’s freaking adorable, and it’s also a nice break from all of the fist fighting. Added bonus.
So that’s what I’m doing to help my little extrovert cope with his brother moving on to pre-school without him. Next year, he’ll be right there too, and to that, all I can say is this: To my middle son’s teachers, I am so sorry in advance. At least he’s cute.