Today, June 1st, 2017 is the last day of school here in Horry County. Today is my last day as the father of a third grader & kindergartner. To say that the school year has flown by would be an understatement. I remember my son’s excitement as his first day of school approached. Because of where his birthday fell, he got to spend an extra year at home before actually starting his academics, so when he went to his first day of class, he was almost ready to turn six. He had already watched for the previous three years his sister get up each morning and go to school.
Every day, he would be excited to wake up early and walk his big sister to the school bus. Not knowing where she was going or what she was going to experience, he would wake up excited to say goodbye to her. Then in the afternoon, he would wait at the bus stop for her to return home again and hear all about the exciting things she did that day. It’s funny because as we came to the end of this year, little sister Miriam who is only 2 is already doing the same types of things. This morning at 5AM I heard a loud scream “MOMMY” from her bedroom as she woke up extra early ready to take her brothers & sisters to the bus. I’m sure that as mid day comes around she will be asking Mommy if it is time to go to the bus stop yet and get them back.
For Jeremiah, this year has been filled with tons of new beginnings as he as started kindergarten. Finally he was able experience what my oldest has been doing for the past few years. In the beginning of the year, it was tough on him to learn to be still, to listen to the teacher and focus on the project at hand. I’m not saying he was being bad, but just as someone trying something new for the first time, school was completely foreign to him. While he has done organized dance and other activities, nothing was ever for the entire day long. Within the first few weeks though, he caught on quickly and started to become the good friend I knew he could be to others in his class.
I remember the first week in class a note coming home where he had been trying to protect someone on the playground from bullies and in the process actually bumped the kid he was protecting causing a minor injury. We had to have a talk about how he can’t be the protector of everyone, but that he needed to let those in authority know of these types of situations and let them handle it. See, Jeremiah is a gentle giant. My son who is by far the tallest in his entire class, (some kids don’t even come to his shoulders) wants to be everyone’s friend and tries to have everyone be his “buddy.” When someone is making fun of a buddy, he would try to protect. The picture to the right is from his 100th day celebration, you can see his buddy to the right doesn’t even come up to his shoulders.
Over the year, Jeremiah had bunches of fun learning to read, play music in music class, and learning to do simple addition and subtraction. He grew into being the leader I knew he could be and had many people in his class looking up to him. Literally & figuratively. At the end of the year he had plenty of great new skills and many new friends.
Living In Fast Lane
As for Isabelle, this year meant a step into the fast lane in third grade. See, towards the end of last year we received notice that after being tested, she was selected to go into the gifted & talented classes for both math and language arts. This meant that she would be joining the strongest academic kids in her grade on an advanced level of learning. As a dad, I was very proud to see this happen as she followed in my footsteps. I remember being placed in these programs at an early age and liked having the challenges they gave. By midway through the year she was working on math problems I don’t remember seeing till fifth grade and up.
Isabelle needs to have her mind challenged every day to grow and shine. As I tell people regularly, she would prefer having a book and sit in a corner reading instead of being surrounded by friends and being the center of the party. This year she continued to excel in all her classes and was placed on the Honor/Merit roll every single semester. By the time she finished third grade, she was testing at a 6th grade reading level and 4th grade math.
As I shared with a friend yesterday, the school year has been definitely busy for us having the kids homework done and trying to get them into be every night by 8PM, but the kids were also involved with many other things. At school, Isabelle was now old enough to start joining clubs and so in the fall she joined a music club. She also was very excited to join the Battle Of The Books club. This club was made up of mainly 4th & 5th graders and Isabelle. During the year they had to read 10 books, all around 200-300 pages in addition to their normal homework assignments to prepare for the “battle.” On the day of the actual battle, Isabelle shined through answering all her questions correctly.
In addition to the clubs, both kids also were involved in Dance. All three of my kids are involved with Silver Lining Dance Academy in Myrtle Beach. While there are several dance studios throughout Myrtle Beach, we chose to have our children be involved with Silver Lining because in addition to them learning basic dance skills, the staff at Silver Lining are more concerned with the children’s character. For Isabelle, this was her first year making the dance team which meant extra practices on Monday night. To give you and idea of what this studio is like, her practices on Monday were for an hour and fifteen minutes. The first hour was spent on dancing, the last fifteen minutes were then prayer time where each of the children shared prayer requests and testimonies for the team to lift each other up and pray for throughout the week.
Jeremiah was very excited this year to try out the hip hop class as he was finally old enough. This class is only for kids who are 6 and up because it involves greater levels of skill and discipline. This met every Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesdays, Isabelle had her intensive ballet class for an hour long. Thursdays were for Miriam who took a 30 minute ballet and 30 minute tap. This is Miriam’s first year in dance and she is the youngest in her class I believe. At her young age she is just starting to learn the basics. The reality is that at this age, we are just happy if she stays in her place on the stage. I remember when we had the winter performance of The Nutcracker, Miriam decided she would get her money’s worth stage time by running from one side to the other and back and forth during her dance number. Luckily she’s cute at that age and everyone giggled. Dance will wrap up June 10th with their final dance recital and then will break for the summer.
In addition to all of the dance classes, Isabelle & Jeremiah just finished up their soccer season. Once again, for Jeremiah this was a new experience being on a team and learning to work with others while having to listen to what the coach wanted from each player. His team this year did well losing only once in the last week of the season. Just like in school, he became buddies with all his teammates and even some of the opponents. For Isabelle, this was her third year playing soccer and I definitely began to notice growth in her play as she was able to stay more focused during the game and do a great job on defense for her team. For her, this was her first year being on a team that would win games. It only took three years, but she was finally able to experience victory. Once her team did that, they went on to win several other games in a row.
I write all of this today to basically brag on my kids and acknowledge how really proud of all the accomplishments and growing I’ve seen in my kids over the past year. Jeremiah has done an awesome job learning to follow rules and deal with a structured day. He has really become good friends to the people around him and does an awesome job supporting & encouraging others. He prefers others before himself and does what he can to help those who might be in need.
Isabelle has really started to show maturity this year as she has grown up a lot. Her focus on being the best in everything she does is admirable. I’ve noticed her skill levels increase exponentially in everything she has done from her reading, dance, and even sports. Miriam has also began to grow and transition into being home alone during the day to learning her dance moves. She is a loving and caring child who will tell you “she is no longer a baby, but a little girl.”
To say I’m a proud dad would be an understatement. Also, I need to say thank you to my wife who has handled the kids and their crazy schedules during the school year. She did an amazing job keeping up with all the different schedules and handled it as if it was no big deal. She is definitely one amazing woman who without her, the kids would not be to accomplish half of the things they actually did.
Here’s to summer!