Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Monkey, May 2014

Dear Monkey,

Sitting down at your spring parent teacher conference, I was reminded once again what a difficult situation you're in. It's a situation I can't relate to at all, but I so strongly empathize with it. 

You are the younger sibling to a brother that many thing comes easy to. You watch Bug excel academically with a fraction of the effort it takes you. As the oldest child growing up, both your dad and your mom set the standard, the example, and the expectations. You, as a second child, find yourself constantly in the shadow of the example and expectations set by your older brother.

Part of it, I take full responsibility for. At the end of preschool, your teacher recommended that you be held back a year. After all, you were only making the age cut off for kindergarten by a week.  I scoffed at her recommendation, sure that my bright, enthusiastic child would do just fine in kindergarten. It's not that you didn't. You knew how to listen, you loved all the activities, you made friends easily. But at that young age, a year difference is enormous. There are skills that you struggled slightly with, but putting you up to the standard set by children 11 months older that you made those struggles seem magnified.

As you struggled, I watched the frustration, on both our sides, grow. You grew increasingly discouraged, I grew increasing demanding.

Thankfully, we have an amazing school. I had conversations very early on with your teachers. We got you involved in small groups and one on one lessons to focus on areas where you struggle. As you gain more skills and confidence, I've watched your willingness and enthusiasm return.

One of the things I'm trying to focus on is valuing the things that come naturally to you. As a family, we tend to be very academically oriented, placing value on good grades, reading, math, and science. And even if you struggle, I will hold you to certain academic standards, making sure you get the support along the way to reach them. 

You have so many talents outside my normal comfort realm. You are an active, outdoorsy, physical child. You love to run, and climb, and rough and tumble. We're getting you enrolled in sports and plan on encouraging you and building up all the talents you have, celebrating everything that makes you amazing.

I hope you know how much I treasure you.  Every part of you, from the unsteady handwriting to the filthy shoes and grass-stained jeans. 



  1. They say younger children often end up becoming entertainers and salespeople--they develop great personalities and an ability to draw attention to themselves. So it can be a good thing!

    1. It will totally be a good thing; no matter how he does on his spelling test, the kid is going to do great things.

  2. I was going to say exactly what Stephanie said!

    Monkey is going to turn out just fine!

    1. He is going to be just fine. It's just hard not to worry about every little thing.

  3. Our Sidekick isn't really academically minded. He gets by but would much rather be climbing trees or playing on his skateboard. We tried to encourage him to join sport teams but he prefers just playing out on the green near our house. He's also quite arty.

    1. Our boys could be friends! It takes a lot to get my Monkey out of trees.