Monthly Miles Memo #80

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:19 pm

Dear Miles,

After a couple of weeks of ease-in, you’re a full-fledged first grader now.  That means homework every night, more responsibility in keeping track of your personal effects, and a new activity:  piano lessons.  You haven’t actually had a lesson yet, because your teacher had to cancel last week’s due to family illness.  Today will be your true start, and you’re excited.  We picked up your materials last week, and we found out that you’d be learning the song “Everything Is Awesome,” the theme to The Lego Movie.  You’d never seen that movie, so we rented it yesterday, and now you’re really psyched about the song.  You’ve been singing it for the last 18 hours.  I hope piano lessons are a positive experience for you.  We really like your teacher, whom we know from choir, and she comes highly recommended by friends.

You’ve also started swimming lessons.  We meant to get that done over the summer, but we never got registered, so we signed both you and Tobin up for the fall session.  The pool is indoor, so no biggie.  You’re working on your skills, including back floats and the beginnings of the crawl (Crall?) stroke.

Photo by Denny

We had a fun adventure last weekend, when we went to Des Moines to spend time with Nana and Papa and help them celebrate their 40th anniversary.  You enjoyed a trip to the zoo (the playground more than the animals, specifically the climbing wall), playing soccer with Papa, and swimming in the hotel pool.  Your dad and I both noticed how pleasant you were to be around.  You kept a good attitude during sometimes challenging circumstances, you were sweet and cooperative, and we were very proud of your behavior.  You also drew a very flattering portrait of Nana.

Photo by Denny

Art and art history continue to be your favorite topics.  You love drawing portraits, and you made a little picture last night that I think is my favorite one you’ve ever done.  It has really nice movement and interesting use of negative space.  You were excited to tell me that you used a technique you learned about in one of your art books, about drawing a basic skeleton first and then fleshing it out.  Last night you and your dad and Tobes went to the library, and you came back with an armful of books about Leonardo daVinci.  I had always imagined that our first family trip to Europe would be to Spain, but we may need to take you to Florence and Milan to get a glimpse of Leonardo’s world.

We don’t have your school portraits back yet, but I was happy when you lost your second top front tooth so we’ll get that archetypal first grade gap-toothed picture.  You lost a bunch of teeth in a short period of time, but I think you’re on a hiatus now.  You still think you’re going to buy a piranha with your tooth fairy cash.  I’m not sure you fully understand what goes into the care and feeding of a piranha.  You’re going to have to lose a lot more teeth before it because anywhere near practical anyway.

You had your first serious bout of school anxiety the other night.  Overall, you’re doing great—your teacher has given you very good feedback on your behavior, and you’re doing well on your academic tasks, too.  But you came into a situation that really threw you.  Every day, you write on your weekly reflections sheet.  Apparently a lot of students have had trouble keeping track of their sheets, and your teacher said that anyone who lost a sheet would have to miss recess.  On Tuesday night, you broke down in tears because you never got a sheet on Monday and you were afraid to tell the teacher because of the potential consequences.  Your dad and I asked what you did on Monday and Tuesday during the designated time to write on the sheet, and you said you filled in your daily reflection on old worksheets.  I checked them out, and your story held up.  There was an entry on the Monday that had previously been blank due to Labor Day, and the Tuesday blank had two entries in it.

Photo by Denny

I felt so sad for you that you’d been stressing out about it for days.  When your dad and I asked why you didn’t just ask your teacher for the sheet on Monday when you realized you didn’t have it, you said you didn’t think she’d believe you and that she’d think you were just trying to shirk consequences.

I told you a story about something that happened to me in first grade.  I remember it so clearly, because it worried me as much as this reflections worksheet was worrying you.  In my first grade math workbook, there was a page that showed all the different coins, their names, and their values.  That was a data set I had trouble remembering, so I often flipped to that page for reference.  Sometimes I had a hard time finding the right page, so one day I decided to just rip it out so I could keep it handy.

Now, I wasn’t the tidiest of students.  I was always envious of those kids whose desks were organized, with their Lisa Frank pencil boxes and Trapper Keepers that always cleanly shut and sat squarely in their desks, as opposed to the bulging messes I was forever shoving into mine.  You’d think I would have had the self-awareness to realizing ripping out a valuable piece of paper would be a bad idea, but I guess my six-year-old self didn’t think it through.

Of course, I lost the reference page.  I lived the rest of the school year in terror that we’d be assigned that page and I wouldn’t have it.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to just confess, but at the time, it seemed impossible.  That’s why I understand how you felt, Miles.  Your dad and I tried to impress upon you that being honest with your teacher—that you never got the page on Monday, and you were afraid to ask for one now—was the best way to handle the situation.  You didn’t seem convinced, and you were sure you’d have to miss recess.  You don’t even like recess all that much, but the idea of being punished just crushed you.  When I was a first-grader, I couldn’t see past my own fear of having broken the rules and the punishment that was sure to befall me.  We both cried the other night as we talked about our situations.  I didn’t just cry because I was sad that you were sad.  I cried because I knew exactly how you felt, and it’s awful.

It turned out fine for both of us.  You and your dad talked to your teacher before school yesterday, and she replaced your reflections sheet, and you didn’t have to miss recess.  For me, the school year ended with the teacher never assigning the coin reference page.  I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to tell us about your problem, though.  I don’t think I had told anyone the story of the coin reference page until two nights ago with you.  I want you to understand that admitting mistakes is better than living in constant fear of not being perfect.  I want you to always, always know that your dad and I are in your court.

You’re a great kid, Miles.  You’re easy to love most of the time, and even when it’s not easy, I still love you.  I bet your teacher’s pretty fond of you, too.




2 responses to “Monthly Miles Memo #80”

  1. Nana says:

    Miles, I love my portrait and I am looking for the perfect frame.

  2. April says:

    woow.. super cute kids

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