Growing Pains

by Stefani on 8-May-2008

A Big Day

Today was the last day of kindergarten for my middle boy, my James.

He goes to school one day a week, and it has been SUCH a wonderful, nurturing experience for him. His teacher was everything you could ever hope for – smart, patient, cheerful and with a passion for little ones. Our boy was happy to go to school every single Thursday and was always bubbling over with stories of his day when I picked him up.

So, as exciting as the big “graduation day” was, it was also bittersweet for my guy.

We heard his class sing their songs and watched them each get their diplomas and throw their hats in the air.

Hat's Off!

We visited his classroom and peeled his art off the walls to stuff into an overladen, now frayed, broken-zippered backpack.

Afterward we went swimming and horsed around.

Bottoms UP!

Then, together, we made his favorite dinner (homemade pizza), toasting the end of his first year in school.

Over the course of the evening though, something happened to my guy.

He got surly and teary. He fought with his brothers and mouthed off to his mama and papa, swung from laughing to slamming doors and then back again.

I was ready to pull out all of my hair, and a few handfuls of his too!

But then, at bedtime, he opted to sleep in his own room. This is something he has not done in months and months. He ALWAYS sleeps in his brother’s top bunk.

He cried and cried, but remained firm that he needed to sleep in his room. And then it dawned on me. He is crossing a line.

My boy saw today as something monumental, a move along the path to manhood. I don’t know if he’ll continue to sleep in his own room or not, but it was clearly very important for him to do it on THIS night, of all nights.

I went into his bedroom and lay in his bed with him. I held him and told him how proud of him I am, what a treasure he is, how smart and how kind, and how he is everything I ever hoped I’d have in a little boy. He sobbed – body-shaking, lip quivering sobs, but he did not know why. He said, “I just feel sad.”

Poor guy. It is so hard to grow up. It is so hard to WANT to grow up, but at the same time to know that what is lost can never be had again. Even if he couldn’t say it, it was apparent that he is, in some small way, understanding that childhood is passing by.

Kindergarten is done.

Before he nodded off though, we talked about how “His mercies are new every morning,” how tomorrow is a new day, full of adventure. We talked about all the fun to come in first grade (he will still go to his one day a week school), and about all our plans for the summer. His little shoulders relaxed. I rubbed his forehead until the lines smoothed away and his breathing slowed. He giggled and we hugged, and he went to sleep smiling.

It was a big, big day for a big, BIG boy.

But not too big.

Not yet.

Angela May 8, 2008 at 8:18 pm

This post broke my heart and made it overflow with joy, all at the same time.

Being an “oldest child”, it brought back memories of those mixed emotions of knowing it was time to “grow up” in certain areas, and yet wishing to cling to my childhood.

I love your response. I love that you noticed his coming of age crossroad, and didn’t question him or make him feel foolish for it, and still were able to be there in a way that wasn’t overly smothering, but loving. And I LOVE that you gave him scripture to hold onto that would reassure him. Something solid he can carry with him. You are such a good mom. I love coming here! (It’s the perfect blend of “sneak peek at what’s to come” in my own kids lives, and “How to handle it” when it does!)

amy May 8, 2008 at 8:54 pm

lovely. I could just wrap my heart around him. Will he go to school one day a week in 1st? Mis of homeschool and traditional? I am just curious as I have a 4 year old…:)

melmo May 8, 2008 at 9:04 pm

beautifully written. a bit teary myself. i love his realness in experiencing life, and your ability to see where he’s at and meet him there.

Sarah Jackson May 8, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Aww, Stef. Sweet sweet boy and such a tender moment. The wisdom of our growing kids never ceases to amaze me.

YayaOrchid May 8, 2008 at 9:28 pm

This is such a sweet post. It seems like yesterday when my two boys were little, saying goodbye for the summer to their teachers and classmates. Oh, such beautiful memories you’ve evoked! Thank you for sharing.

franticallysimple May 8, 2008 at 9:46 pm

My girl often does the same thing. your post has given me some insight I have been searching for. (And really made me cry.)
Thank you. I mean it.

Amanda May 8, 2008 at 10:06 pm

I really am learning lots from your blog. My daughter is five in September and does not like the idea of growing up at all! It must be so hard to come to terms with. So reading here I am learning from you how to ease the way for her. Thankyou for sharing!

Corynne Escalante May 9, 2008 at 1:07 am

hello, by the way. i’ve just starting posting on your site without really say hi. 🙂

wow! this is so beautiful! i am so glad you write these things so that all of these special moments are captured…

what kind of school is this that your son attends, if you don’t mind me asking? my 3 year old is approaching school age soon, but i feel so reluctant to send him off…

Adrienne May 9, 2008 at 3:47 am

I am wiping my own tears. What a tender moment. My oldest boy turned 4 yesterday and I am just in awe … where has the time gone. Indeed today is a new day and another adventure!

Diane May 9, 2008 at 3:57 am

Ack, I’m all teary here, too. How sweet he is and how sweet you are. Good job, mama!

erin May 9, 2008 at 5:12 am

oh stef! that boy is so sweet. when he is about 20, can we set him up with kate?

we had the kindergarten performance yesterday, too. it broke my heart because i know she is moving on, too. time is moving sooooo fast.

Elissa May 9, 2008 at 5:36 am

well, now that my eyes are all blurry and i want to hug my guys like crazy, can i just say thanks for letting us know that your kids slam doors and get mouthy occasionally too 😉 whew, that’s good to know! Cal’s preschool graduation is coming in a couple weeks and i can imagine we’ll have some mood swinging around here as well. growing up IS hard, even for me! truly what a blessing that His mercies ARE new every morning. otherwise, i’d be sunk. btw, pic of james on his head, all giddy and on the toothfairy’s payroll, PRICELESS!!!! i don’t even know him and i know you have captured his very essence in that moment! definite photo mojo 😉

Sarah May 9, 2008 at 5:42 am

What a wonderful (and very true) post. It is indeed hard to grow up and sad to leave our past, even when we are excited for the future. I’m 28 and I still want my mommy to take care of me some times and just sit with me and tell me I’m great and everything will be okay…I’m sure I’ll feel like that no matter how old I am!

Congratulations on your graduation, James! You have many exciting years ahead, and I’m confident you’ll be an amazing man!

emily May 9, 2008 at 5:53 am

i’m crying.

Mandy May 9, 2008 at 6:00 am

Ok you made me cry….again. This is the most bittersweet thing ever! It is so hard to grow up. One thing I work on daily is trying to REMEMBER what it was like when I was their age and how I felt.

And how cute are those stinkin graduation caps? Oh my!

Crystal May 9, 2008 at 6:28 am

It is so hard to grow up. To be at home in your own skin when your own skin is changing and growing is near impossable, I guess thats why they call them growing pains… I try to remind my wee ones about the adventures to come, like you did with your son. Still, it’s hard stuff.

Congrats to your son on his graduation! 🙂

Collins May 9, 2008 at 6:36 am

I love this post. What a sweet boy! You did such a great job of letting him feel just what he needed to. Enjoy your summer!

Stephanie May 9, 2008 at 7:25 am

Oh, my. My daughter is grown now, but that brings back old and not so old memories. I don’t wish for her to be 6 again, but I remember so clearly the snaggle-toothed grin that could stop my heart. Kudos to you for being able to see past the misbehaving to what he was really feeling.

Tonya May 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

Yup, I’m crying too. That was beautiful. What an amazing day.

Eren May 9, 2008 at 11:04 am

Oh James, it is rough growing up at any age…and sometimes I want to throw a fit too. Love you you sweet boy and congrtulations! First grade is going to love you!

Tonya May 9, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Aww . . . I have tears welling up, too. I have a little almost-9-month-old, and he’s already growing up so fast! (His middle name, by the way, is James.)

Congratulations to James on a new chapter. Growing up doesn’t get any easier, but it does bring lots of rewards.

Courtney May 9, 2008 at 3:15 pm


Laura e. R. May 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Aw! Congrats little man! My little guy is nearly 2 and I know I’ll be beside myself when he goes to Kindergarden.

I missed your post yesterday, but I wanted to recommend *egg custard* to you for kids’ breakfast. I actually posted the recipe on my site with a pict (most recent post). DS, DH and I all love it. Can add as many eggs as you want and so so quick and easy to make 🙂

katie May 9, 2008 at 5:53 pm

so sweet. so, so, sweet.

Jenna May 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm

that was so sweet. totally made me cry. it’s so hard to hold on to time. “stay little for just a bit longer.” at least long enough so that we will remember. beautiful post. thanks for sharing. 🙂

Tracey@Paper Dolls for Boys May 10, 2008 at 4:38 am

Well you sure know how to make a momma cry! So beautiful, every word.

Ellie May 10, 2008 at 6:28 am

I’m crying too. You are a wonderul Mama, just lying there and stroking his forehead, and hugging and listening and reassuring. How can such sweet little creatures understand things so well? They know and feel so truely and deeply, and listen to themselves so intuitively.
It’s so great that he was able to simply sad I’m sad, and I don’t know why. I wish I had the wisdom to do that.
I think my little one is going through a growth of sorts, but doesn’t quite know how to express or vocalise it, except for the whinging and crying and hitting phase.
Thank you xx

Mama Urchin May 10, 2008 at 7:21 am

so sweet

Julie @ Letter9 May 11, 2008 at 9:08 am

Oh, I remember that feeling SO well that your post made me cry cry cry. I remember I used to collect these little porcelain dogs and in fourth grade I felt like I needed to give them all away to my little sister. Only, I was so sad about it — I didn’t want to give them to her but I knew that they were for little kids and I knew that giving them to her was important for me to do.

So I gave them to her but I made her sign a contract stating that if I ever wanted them back, she had to give them to me.

A couple of years ago we found that contract and I’ve saved it. It’s my marker of exactly the kind of moments of which you write.


Relyn May 11, 2008 at 9:37 am

I cried a little as I read this post. Probably because my little one finishes Kindergarten too. She has about a week and a half left and it feels so bittersweet. Each new stage is beautiful and brings so much joy, but I always mourn for what we have left behind. I always feel sad as my baby girl gets left further and further behind. Isn’t motherhood odd? I cry even as I am so excited to see what is coming next. It’s good to know we’re not alone. Isn’t it?

MadWoman May 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

I don’t know if it is something about today in general, and the tone of the posts I have been reading, or if y’all are genuinely tugging at my heart strings, but this was the third post in 10 minutes to get me teary.

What a wonderfully written tribute to your son. I love that you recognised his inner struggle in the crossing over from Kindie to Gr 1. Poor boy, it must be a rollercoaster of emotions for him.

Happy Mothers Day mama!!

Kristi May 12, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Ok, I do not put anything past James, but wow, that he understood that! I don’t think I taught that, it must have been the homeschool part! I loved having your son this year. He brought so much insight into the classroom and after reading this it just amazes me me even more what a special kiddo he is. More than I even saw! XOXO, James! I am going to miss you next year, but will read about all of your sdventures!!! I LOVED my b-fast cookies, cannot wait to make peanut butter ones!!
~Mrs. Richards

Grace May 16, 2008 at 11:43 am

There’s something very special about those James-es in our lives, I think.

consuelo May 26, 2008 at 5:17 am

Tears running down my face I am writing my comments. My little boy is now 39. I’d give all I have to be back in the stage when my children were little. It went by so fast and I had no idea it would. Please, other mothers of young children, learn from me. Don’t turn your precious gifts from God over to the government/public schools to influence for most of the day, five days a week, 9 months per year. Your child may have a caring, able teacher but the system itself will do much harm to your children. Teachers must follow the rules of the state.

consuelo May 26, 2008 at 5:19 am

Tears running down my face I am writing my comments. My little boy is now 39. I’d give all I have to be back in the stage when my children were little. It went by so fast and I had no idea it would. Please, other mothers of young children, learn from me. Don’t turn your precious gifts from God over to the government/public schools to influence for most of the day, five days a week, 9 months per year. Your child may have a caring, able teacher but the system itself will do much harm to your children. Teachers must follow the rules of the state.

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