Kindergarten is tearful goodbyes and seemingly long bus rides. It’s show & tell and counting songs and tadpoles in the classroom. It’s rule learning and friend making. It’s growing potatoes and snap peas and releasing the frogs. It’s graduation and tight mommy hugs and just a little bit of growing up.
First grade is confidence and excitement. It’s new teachers and backpacks and advances classroom rules. It’s reading when you never thought it would happen. It’s adding with ease and counting by tens. It’s first crushes and school plays and just a step above kindergarten.
But second grade is different.
Second grade is independence and fearlessness. It’s eagerness to learn and the thrill of sitting at a desk instead of on the floor. It’s being able to keep your own school supplies instead of sharing them. It’s lockers in the hallway and assignment books and worksheets for homework.
It’s been such a positive change for Evan this year. He enjoys school because he’s now past a lot of the rules and expected behavior and red/yellow/green cards. He’s learning about real things like cumulus clouds and precipitation and spiders. He’s reading chapter books like Goosebumps (to himself) with great voracity. In fact, it’s taken until late November for him to claim he “hates” school when he simply would rather sleep in and play video games all day. (Wouldn’t we all?)
But stopping in and playing visitor for his “Adventure Gym” unit in P.E. this week made me notice something else about second grade.
Second grade is short, skinny boys and toothpick girls. It’s also beefier boys and solidly built girls. I don’t see the tiny little kindergarteners I once knew. They’re all shapes and sizes.
Second grade is also girls trying new and fancy shorter haircuts. It’s boys growing their hair long and shaggy. It’s less sparkles and bows and more t-shirts and tennis shoes.
And it’s also mouths full of questionable teeth. The teeth are what give the second graders away. The front teeth are mostly gone and in their place are big gangly white teeth that will someday fit their mouths.
Until then, second grade is a place to be yourself. Your body and brain are growing and you’re slowly making your way in the world. Gone are the shadows of the faces of babies and toddlers and in their place are the faces of little adults slowly emerging.
Second grade is dropping my baby off at school without him turning around to blow me a kiss but knowing he’s always got a hug in reserve for me.