For some reason, I was surprised by the big sheaf of paperwork I had to complete for Tristan's enrolment. There were immunization papers, tax roll papers, transportation papers, and the school board application form. The one form that raised my eyebrows was from the school itself. It had all the usual information - date of birth, parent names, emergency contact, etc. But then it had a section with questions about the child's abilities: can he dress himself, work buttons and zippers by himself, go to the bathroom by himself. So I completed those, understanding that they want to have an idea of his capabilities but also thinking that even though in February he might still need some help with buttons and zippers, I'm guessing in September he'll be a lot more capable.
Then there was a small section with a bunch of adjectives, and you were supposed to check off the ones that apply to your child. Things like sensitive, curious, willful, artistic, independent.
Is he sensitive? No, of course not. I mean, yes... but in a good way. Could you please tell me the right answer here?
Is he stubborn? Absolutely. Well, sometimes. I mean, no more than usual. Um, can I please have another paper, I made a mess of this one.
And then there's three blank lines underneath the question, "Is there anything else we should know?" Only three lines? How about I just append my blog? Okay, the short version. He's sweet, he's very bright and extremely verbal, and although he doesn't like to share with his brother on most days, he's very kindhearted and generous. He's very empathetic, except sometimes he's a little self-centred. I mean, he's three. And he knows his letters and can count to 100, and he knows the obscure colours like fuscia and charcoal. He can put his own boots on, but he often chooses not to. (What do you mean I'm out of space, I didn't get to the part about the trains, or the bathroom, or... or...)
I really should have just left that whole section blank. It's not up to me anymore, it's up to Tristan to make his own way. My labels, however carefully worded to prop up his self-esteem and make him seem like an ideal little learner, can't possibly describe the complex bundle of wonder and contradictions that is Tristan.
I don't want to prejudice their perception of him with my words, my thoughts, my observations. I want them to know Tristan on Tristan's terms. He'll shine, and they'll love him. I have no doubt.
I can't draw a deep breath when I think of the precipice on which we are standing. School is the conduit that will lead him toward his future, to guide him and encourage him and shape him. In just a few months, he will take his first steps on a long road that will lead to adulthood. And away from me.
I'm not ready.