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Stories, observations, and reflections from a life of raising boys

Life Lessons

Jenifer DeMattia


There we were. Orientation for our son’s first year of preschool. We listened as the teachers and other staff spoke to us parents about the expectations, rules, and curriculum of their preschool. As we listened to one teacher talk about the bathroom rules I dug my nails into my husband’s hand. We looked at each other defeated. Not only could we not seem to get our son potty trained but as fidgety and all around wild as he could be we were basically screwed. Before going to see our son’s soon to be classroom, I got the attention of the head of the school to discuss the fact that my son was not potty trained yet. I also informed her that we had been experiencing some emotional concerns with him as well. I don’t know if it was because she was simply wonderful or just felt sorry for me because I was tearing up, but she agreed to allow my son a month trial period at the school.

After his first day, I received a phone call saying that he was being moved to another classroom with more support. I was just so thankful they didn’t tell me it wasn’t working already. He had good days and bad days. But he was not treated like a troublemaker. He was treated like a strong-willed, energetic, 3-year-old boy who had never experienced school before. That meant the most to me for some reason, that validation from the school that my son was not “expected” to be anything but what he was.

When we attended his graduation from the 3’s class last month I did not cry like I thought I would. I stood there watching him squirm around on stage laughing uncontrollably. I was laughing because I was happy and because as always, “This kid.” That’s all I could think, “This kid.” It seems like so long ago we doubted him. And so, I have learned doubt is a word that I should promptly remove from my vocabulary. It has no home with me anymore. The group I witnessed on that awesome day, the twirly nose-pickers on the graduation stage, I can’t imagine they have any idea the life lessons they have bestowed upon me.

The tantrums, the frustrating days. They are all part of the process. They are him coming into himself. Learning to cope with big emotions. Learning his place and how he fits in. It’s a process to be dealt with in patience and to be respected as his own. Children really are amazing. Music - Alexi Murdoch "All My Days"