We all learn until our last breath

I may have mentioned eight or nine or 46 times that my grandsons started school in September; Aiden in junior kindergarten in Ontario and Linden in kindergarten of the regular variety in British Columbia.
I have never been a fan of sending babies to school. Two of my daughters had junior kindergarten and two didn’t, and I saw no difference in their academic prowess. Again, there is lots of room for debate on the merits of both.
One thing I noticed after two weeks of Linden in school for a few hours each day was the focus in the classroom. Linden’s teacher had a very clear idea of what Linden could not do. He could not get his wind pants on without help (I struggle with the same task). Nor can he zip up his own jacket or backpack (he is small for his age and the end of the zipper is a long way away).
I’m not making excuses for him. I’m merely stating the limitations of someone his size.
Linden’s mother is well aware that Linden struggles to dress himself. He is four, not five for another month yet, and she doesn’t consider this developmental delay. None of my daughters went off to high school unable to dress themselves and though I put things on backwards and inside out with greater frequency these days, which in moments enrages me, I manage with sufficient skill to dress myself.
So I think no need to worry, Linden’s teacher. All in good time. Though this may make the teacher’s day more difficult, I think it’s not such a travesty for Linden.
I would like to know, after two weeks of spending time with my grandson, what you think his strengths are. I know what his four-year-old limitations are. I know when he hasn’t had fuel, his tolerance for waiting and patience is stretched thin and sometimes snaps (he may come by that honestly; my stomach and I tend to growl in stereo).
I want to know if his teacher has recognized that Linden is quick to jump in and help when he encounters a stranger on the street who seems to be burdened. He offers to open doors, carry heavy objects, gather up runaway balls and, without fail, the adults whom he has never met before are gob smacked, verklempt.
Why? Because maybe they spend too much time noticing what those around them can’t do.
Linden picks up litter in the street and finds a garbage can (though, in full disclosure, I have seen him leave an empty banana peel beside the sofa, a little under it, tucked just slightly out of sight). He’s probably testing the cleaners for their thoroughness.
Unfortunately, or fortunately I suppose, I am the cleaner but the position is of a temporary nature for me.
Linden worries about children who are sad and almost always is willing to lend an ear–and will sometimes, though not always, share a toy to help heal the wound.
Linden, like you and me, is not perfect. He sometimes wails and falls to the floor when told it’s bedtime or finds an obstruction in his path. I’ve only recently learned to manage my own frustration with underwear’s lack of compliance to the right-side-out rule.
The point I’m trying to make is we are all learning; learning until our last breath. So why not view the lack of a particular skill as an opportunity, an adventure, rather than a failure. And I am very happy to help Linden with his jacket and socks–privileged to help until he can do it on his own.
I’d rather him know that he lives in a society, be it his classroom or his home, where we all help one another rather than be expected to walk the road alone.
wendistewart@live.ca

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