Last week, at the end of Finn’s final day of first grade, he strode down the steps of the bus and said, “I’m a second grader now!”
I still remember his first day of the school year last August, when he reluctantly boarded that same “B Blue” bus in tears. He didn’t want to set a single foot on a big vehicle driven by a stranger. He didn’t want to walk into a new classroom filled with new students and a teacher he didn’t know.
But after a few tentative steps, he moved forward into a good day:
And as the year went on, his steps became more assured and self-directed. Finn — never one to get moving too quickly in the morning — started rushing out of bed and dressing in his uniform to ensure that we would make it to the bus stop on time. He made new friends on his own and returned home to share stories about how they all sang “It’s Raining Tacos” in unison on the bus, about Henry’s outrageous shark stories in the lunchroom, about the funny, red chair that Zander spun around in at his classroom table. Finn laughed with his new peers and grew to love Mrs. Correa, who encouraged him with her lovely smile and innovative ideas, like the weekly presentations he gave on “Finn’s Fantastic Fact Fridays” about subjects such as sauropods, theropods, hadrosaurs, phytosaurs, raptors, invasive species, endangered animals, plant and animal camouflage, the solar system — and chicken eggs.
His confidence grew to the point where he was even willing to audition for and participate in a school talent show, during which he stepped onstage by himself to recite a Shel Silverstein poem entitled “Spaghetti” — in front of over 400 people!
“Could you see that my legs were shaking?” he asked afterwards. This was, for me, a true gauge of Finn’s stronger footing, a measure of his more assertive footsteps. He proved to himself that he didn’t have to be stopped by fear.
He also proved it when we took our first camping trip this past January to Wekiwa Springs. Although we had been camping in the back yard before, this was Finn’s first REAL experience sleeping out in the wilderness — and it happened to be during a rare cold snap in Florida, with 40 degree nights. But that wasn’t the challenging part, as we prepared well and stayed pretty warm:
The test came after we hiked to the actual springs and Finn considered a swim. Although it had warmed up during the day, I wasn’t personally keen on taking a dip in the chilly waters; still, I didn’t want to discourage Finn from his uncharacteristic spontaneity. After taking off the majority of his clothes and going back and forth in his head for nearly an hour — I’ll do it! I can’t! Yes! No way! I can do it! — he finally pushed off with bare feet and jumped in to the clear springs.
It might have been an ordinary thing, but we were so proud of him for that initial leap.
Other firsts this year? Finn stood on a little stepping stool to gather Vera and Hopster’s first lovely, light teal eggs from the nesting box…
He walked into the arena to watch his first hockey game…
He ran around with a toothless smile for the first time since he was six months old…
…and (speaking of toothlessness), he stood still to hold his new cousin Zoë for the first time:
Finn’s first grade year was filled with lots of growth and new things.
Before second grade brings us more, we’ll stop to blow a bittersweet goodbye kiss to the past school year…
…and circle around to embrace and dance for a bit with a fun, old friend: summertime.