Ben started kindergarten almost two weeks ago and so far it's been amazing. I assumed he'd enjoy it, especially once we found out his best friend and another friend from the neighborhood were in his class. I also assumed the transition would be a little bumpy. He's never done a full-day program before, so I was expecting him to be a tired, grumpy mess when he got home from school. However, I've been very pleasantly surprised. Completely unexpectedly, his attitude actually seems to have gotten better. Over the summer there was lots of fighting with Sam and whining and throwing tantrums (yes, even 5 year olds have tantrums now and again), but now that he's in school he's playing nicer with his brother and being fairly cooperative. Nobody's perfect, so of course he still has Moments, but overall he's been very pleasant.
It was a bit baffling to me at first, but when I started thinking about it I realized that he probably just wasn't getting enough extrovert time. Over the summer we were subject to Sam's naps, which meant he spent most afternoons with only me. And by the afternoon I was jonesin' for some introvert time, so more often than not he spent afternoons playing video games by himself. Going to school and being surrounded by classmates for seven hours a day must be like a breath of fresh air for him.
The idea that being in school restores him is ALSO baffling to me, but I'm so glad for it because it allows me to restore, as well. And I think that's the other piece of the puzzle. While Ben gets his extrovert tank filled at school, I get my introvert tank filled at home while Sam naps. So when we finally come back together at 3pm we're both feeling happier and more content, which obviously leads to a more peaceful co-existence. It's lovely.
Another lovely side effect of kindergarten is that it seems to have... opened up his brain. Since about age 4 he's been pretty resistant to us teaching him anything, like reading, math, etc. But now he doesn't seem as annoyed when Heath asks him math questions or I ask him to read something. And the other morning over breakfast he and I had a GREAT conversation. It started with him asking about ice ages and over about 10 minutes it morphed into talking about climate change, the origins of humans, evolution and why people have different skin colors. It was the best conversation we've ever had and it was truly a give and take. It wasn't just me lecturing him. It was amazing and three weeks ago I never would've imagined it.
So Ben is definitely flourishing in school and it's hard for me to express in words how wonderful it is to watch. It fills my heart to see him maturing and growing into the person he will be. It's absolutely amazing.