Happy Back to School??? My 5 Year Old Wants to Quit
Our emotional level these past two week has been the equivalent of five Taylor Swift breakups happening all at once because my sons started German immersion school last week. My oldest son Darian has been in love and out of love with it so hard and so fast that my heart and soul can barely handle it.
First, Darian was so excited–fully dressed with his backpack on and water bottle in hand at 6:30 am for his 9:00 am class. Then it definitely turned into “Crying! Screaming! I can make all the wheels turn” when I picked him up.
All the way from that time to the time I dropped him off, he made it EXTREMELY clear that he was not going back. He even woke me up in the middle of the night, which is against a family law unless there is a loss of life or limb, to beg me to never go back—“like, ever.”
You must know that he told me he wanted to go because he wanted to speak German again, mostly because he was born there and wants to live there again. So I was NICE and found him a German school. And the school is AMAZING. (His little brother loves it, and he won’t even go to the nursery at church and that place has bubbles.)
By the third day, I could barely take it any more. I wanted to turn around and let the school know through a cowardly email that it didn’t work out. It would be just so much easier—like please stop screaming at me from the back seat easier.
Does he just not understand enough that he wants to revert to things being easy? Did we focus so hard on Spanish this last year that his German is just a faint memory? Should I just put him in a Spanish school, so he’s happy and not frustrated?
I then suddenly remembered so many faces and regret filled comments of friends who are first generation and don’t speak their parents’ native language. (I grew up in a city with a lot of friends from Korea.) They were so sad they didn’t learn another language when it was SO ACCESSIBLE. And it’s because they were absolute beasts to their parent—is this what was happening to us? Would their mistake help Darian?
“Darian, enough! Do you know that a lot of people only speak one language?”
“No, they don’t.”
“Yes. Even kids whose parents speak another language, sometimes they don’t learn their parent’s language.”
“Because they told their parents not to talk to them like that, that they didn’t want to go to language classes, and to leave them alone. And they fought their parents so hard, the parents gave up. And when they grow up, they are so sad they didn’t learn when they were younger.”
“Okay. Okay. I’ll go.”
“That’s what you want to do with your chance to learn German again?”
Super exhausted, leave me alone voice, “Yhessss.”
And he did, and then he didn’t.
When I picked him up, he let me know that he just didn’t think school would be this hard, but he wants to do it… and at the same time he wants to quit. It’s hard for him to hold on to his reasons because long term vision is hard for five year olds (and many adults).
I keep reminding myself that I don’t need to protect my son so people can tell him how amazing he is his whole life. I don’t need to keep him away from things that are difficult, so he’s always confident. I don’t need to make his life easy. He needs to grow.
So this post doesn’t leave you with: now I said all the right things and everything is better. It leaves you with a family trying to continue when it’s really, really hard. And it might be months until we are on the other side of this. But by then, I can only hope, he’ll be like his friend in his class who speaks German, Spanish, and English—connected to his roots with international opportunities.
And I hope to survive this too.
To continuing when it’s just so hard and your kids hate you,