Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Looking Back and Falling Forward and It’s The First Week of First Grade and I Think It’s Going to be OKAY

Tonight, I sat in my son’s tiny first-grade school desk for back-to-school night and resisted riffling through its contents. I didn’t want to disrupt his teacher’s slideshow about schedules and learning and classroom rules and how parents are able to volunteer and be involved. 

I sat there, fidgeting to find a comfortable position and thought about my own first grade experience. SosoSO shy, I didn’t speak to my teacher for months. I thought about how full-circle it feels that my greatest concern about my little boy’s first months at school is the same. That upon meeting his teacher, I said “He may not speak to you for a couple of months, but hang in there. He’ll do better with soft than he will with enthusiasm.”

That she got that gives me grace and hope for all of us, mamas and papas. Because while we stand at the bus stop and shout “Whoot!” because finally a schedule again and finally a break in this humidity and heat, it’s also about saying goodbye to the last year and to the babies who are no longer babies. And that’s always full of both the happy and the sad and that doubts about whether this summer was just perfect enough or too perfect and under-appreciated. As are, I suppose, all of the moments. We never know when one is perfect until afterwards and then we’ll always wonder whether we could’ve-should’ve extended or embraced it more than we did.

It seems that the moments in which we think “oh-please-oh-please help me to hold this” are often later blurry. Which may be why they feel so complete and right. 

Really what I guess I’m getting at is how in the world did September arrive so quickly? I mean, don’t actually answer that because of course I know that September comes after August and that we just had August and that this time of year was coming and was right around the corner the same way that it does and is every more-rapidly whizzing-by year.

The moments. They

But still. I feel as if we’re falling into and out of all of the things.

We’re falling and stumbling to get up and ready after three months of not having to get up and get ready very often. Yesterday, we ran back inside the house to replace veggie fries with Pirate’s Booty for snack time because “I changed my mind” and “need hair gel afterall.” Which is -of course- fair and should have been expected, but wasn’t.  For the past three months, we didn’t worry about the bus pulling away without him, his friends on board and him having to gawdforbid ride with mom to get to school.


Tonight, I sat in my son’s tiny first-grade school desk for back-to-school night and thought about fall and apples and crisp leaves crunching under our boots. I thought about working more hours. But mostly, I thought about my little boy who is grow grow growing more into himself and a little bit further from being little every day. A little bit further from me everyday? Yes, that, too.

I sat at his desk and thought about how I didn’t cry this year when he got on the bus only to find myself crying when his new teacher explained that they’re working on the concept of safety beyond the physical aspect of it. Today, there was a “secure mode.” I don’t know whether that means lockdown, but suspect that it does. On the third day of school. A stranger was reported in the playground by some of the students,and there was a FOR-REAL “secure mode” at school. On my son’s third day of first grade. It was resolved but you guys — a “secure mode.”

That’s not what made me cry though. My not-so-little little boy’s teacher told us that they were focusing on feeling safe. Physically. Themselves and their friends. That they need to be mindful of their bodies and their space and hurting physically but that being safe also means that anybody in class can raise his or her hand and feel safe in asking a question. She has them thinking – on the third day of first grade – about empathy and being accepted and accepting. That’s when I cried.

Yo Moms. Whatevs. I

Because once again, it seems that I’ve found grace and kindness and a teacher who will help my son to know that it’s okay to ask a question even when he’s too shy to raise his hand.

Even when he’s worried about being understood. That she knows that everybody’s questions matter. That special needs are just needs. 

And so maybe, this falling and stumbling into and out of fall is going to be more of a stepping forward than a looking back. Although, I have to admit, that I’ll always look back a little bit, too. I’m kinda sentimental that way.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together to share their versions of a completed sentence. This week’s prompt was “This fall, I…”

****ALSO my husband is at work tonight and LIKEALWAYS I did this at the last minute, the exception being that my son has been awake and I’m trying to get him to bed so will be editing this and and and but OMG guys… SCHOOL. Schedule. Crap.

Me, Kristi from Finding Ninee
Julie from Carvings on a Desk
and Danielle from Way Off Script

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  • Allie - Oh you poor thing! I hate last minute. Mine too, kind of. And I got tripped up about whether or not I should have pictures. Eek. First grade! Yay Tucker. And it sounds like he will be in lovely hands. I know it’s going to be great. And I’m laughing at you and September. Cause – you know, in my mind fall is halfway over! Damn, we have fall BREAK in TWO weeks! What the?!?!September 10, 2015 – 10:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Allie! Yours was amazing. And yeah, it’s one thing when I do the last minute alone, in the quiet. It’s another when I know my son needs to go to bed, and I hear stupid cartoons that I feel guilty for letting him watch so I can finish. Gah. I had to wake him for school today. TG today is Friday (and of COURSE, he’ll probably be up early tomorrow).
      You have FALL BREAK in TWO freaking weeks???? GAH!!!!September 11, 2015 – 11:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Yes, it is wonderful to find teachers who really understand our kids. Who are reaching out to them to help them grow and find their place in this world. T is so lucky that he has that kind of teacher in the first grade; she’ll probably stay with him in so many ways for the rest of his life. Sending hugs and smileys!!!! 😉September 10, 2015 – 10:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It’s everything really, to find the teachers – or to have them find us – who not only understand our kids, but are willing to. That’s big huge. I so hope that she’s as amazing as I think she is and WHOOT TO GREEN SMILEYS!!! They make me so happy!!
      PS Tucker asked to start buying his lunch today. I was freaking out a little because at least when I bring it, I know what’s in it but also proud because maybe – with the exception of most veggies – he’s making healthy choices. At least now when he wants chips, he says “I want unhealthy food” “but just a little because I want abs” so something?September 11, 2015 – 11:50 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - Beautiful writing tonight. I am so happy you fell into kindness and empathy.

    This week I fell into cruelty, ignorance and discrimination against my son for having special needs and retaliation for my advocacy for him and children like him. We are kinda of having opposite weeks. However, I am thrilled for you and T man!September 10, 2015 – 10:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I am so so sad that this week brought you cruelty and ignorance and discrimination. I HATE that you’re going through all of this so much. I’m really sorry and sending huge love and prayers. Also I know if anybody can conquer these dicks, it’s you.September 11, 2015 – 11:51 pmReplyCancel

      • JT Walters - Thank you. I think you give me too much credit! You are awesome.September 12, 2015 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

  • Christine Organ - Falling and stumbling into fall…I love that. That’s how I feel too.September 10, 2015 – 10:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Jo Severson - You’re amazing that you pulled together a post in that short amount of time. I’m picturing you sitting in that little desk and smiling. Such a funny site at those parent meetings. What a huge relief that your son has such a wonderful teacher. Means the world doesn’t it? And yes to teaching empathy on day three! Way more important that all the other stuff. Sleep well. Yay to Friday.September 10, 2015 – 11:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Not so amazing, but thank you and lol to the whole sitting in the tiny desk for our meetings. Also YES empathy is so so much more important than “all those other things.” I love how you phrased that. 🙂 Also thank you for hosting this week with me!September 12, 2015 – 12:04 amReplyCancel

  • Deb - Yay. Beautiful meditation on the change-over of the seasons. I never do that well with endings and transitions. He’s going to be so, so fine.September 10, 2015 – 11:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Love. I so so so hope you’re right. We just found out that the “secure incident” was a man with a knife and his car running behind him for like some get-away or something. Gah.September 12, 2015 – 12:06 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Wow, we had similar nights!! Back to school night is actually in October, but we had First Grade Night! Weird!
    Sister Wife.
    Moving on..
    The teacher sounds like a goddess, teaching safety and body awareness and empathy. Hug her for me.
    xoxo.September 10, 2015 – 11:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Cosmic.
      Sister wife.
      Here’s to body awareness and empathy. And I so so will. xoSeptember 12, 2015 – 12:07 amReplyCancel

  • Pat B - I love your writing and I suspect it was really good for you to be able to write those feelings. Wishing you and your family the best during this school year.September 11, 2015 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Sandra - Your kid is so cool…hair gel? Really? That’s awesome! And I have to say, I love the meme you made of your talking baby (somebody teach me this shit! I can’t even figure out PicMonkey!)And yeah, “secure mode”? There are some crazy mother fuckers out there, and it is through the grace of God that our children find leaders who can teach them how to remain safe. Am praying for the safety of your son and his school mates while “stranger danger guy” is wandering around…psycho…don’t there people realize that in this day and age, just stay the fuck off the school grounds!…sorry, but this shit scares me. Last year we had a white pedo van driving around the parking lot of the school, stopping near children to ask them “questions.” Thank goodness it was reported, and nobody got hurt, but man, I’m sick of these sick fuckers…Ok, can you tell I’m slightly stressed with the return of school…~deep breaths deep breaths~September 11, 2015 – 1:30 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandra,
      I will teach you Pic Monkey but prefer Photoshop (and Canva is easier than Pic Monkey). Also yeah, the hair gel is new since he thought he wanted a faux hawk and then decided against it sometimes but not all the time so we’re in hybrid mode now. Thank you so much for the prayers and honestly it’s worse than we knew — the guy had a knife and had his car running behind him. I’ll write about it soon. Thank you and I’M SO SICK OF THESE SICK FUCKERS. Deep breaths.September 12, 2015 – 12:44 amReplyCancel

  • Heidi Hotzler North - Those special teachers, thank god for them. We have had the pleasure of such wonderful people that I can never repay for what they do for these kids each and every day. I still get choked up at the first day of school, not the weeping that I used to do, I still save that for any other school events!September 11, 2015 – 2:05 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - Oh the emotions of summer ending and fall starting and your little guy going to school. I miss sitting in those little chairs for a parent/teacher conference or a meeting or to visit Lindsey or Michael’s classroom. Maybe I’ll get a grandchild someday and get to sit in one again, as a grandma. BTW, your new little grandbaby (I think that’s what your new little addition would be)–the family photo looked wonderful. But I digress. I can’t believe Tucker’s school has already had some potential stranger danger. It makes me so sad that all of our kids have to watch out for such stuff. They certainly shouldn’t have to be worried at such a young age–even though it doesn’t sound like Tucker was feeling unsafe. Like you, I already like his teacher. Keep on enjoying first grade. And it is all going to be ok.September 11, 2015 – 2:40 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Gah to the emotions of fall and school and summer ending and yeah. I so hope you’ll have a grandchild too one day so that you can revisit it all. Also I plan to write about it but the stranger-danger was so much worse than the school told us. It’s a little unbelievable and I’m still processing. I love his teacher so far. Thank you for always knowing just what to say.September 12, 2015 – 1:00 amReplyCancel

  • Ripped Jeans & Bifocals - I’m so glad T has a great teacher! She sounds awesome. And so does he. And so do you! Happy first grade and yes…it goes by crazy fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!September 11, 2015 – 4:20 amReplyCancel

  • Bev - Well I think it’s pretty darn amazing that you wrote such a beautiful post last-minute and with your son there!
    It sounds like it is going to be a good year for him, I hope! I’m glad he has a teacher who gets him. Here’s to a wonderful year!September 11, 2015 – 6:56 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Bev!!! I feel really lucky that he’s been so blessed that he’s had such great teachers!!September 12, 2015 – 1:01 amReplyCancel

  • ivy - Oh i dont even know what to say. Just happy my fav guy is doing so well and has great support at home and school… See ya soon!September 11, 2015 – 6:59 amReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I literally just wrote about my feelings of my girls and back to school this week and all I wish for them this year, too. And can say I think we are most definitely experiencing similar feelings on this now. I think I may even link up my post. Technically it doesn’t say fall, but it is jam packed with my upcoming wishes for them this year and all to come this upcoming season, as well, too. Hugs and we will get through this together now 😉September 11, 2015 – 7:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m so so glad that you linked up, Janine!! Here’s to feeling all of the feels and the love and the regrets and the sigh sigh… Huge huge HUGE hugs back to you and yes, let’s so get through this together.September 12, 2015 – 1:03 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Special needs are just needs. I love Tucker’s teacher. I am so very thankful that she seems to get it. That you have found a safe place, even when you are worried he might not be safe. But he is, because he has a teacher that understands how to make him as safe as possible.September 11, 2015 – 9:48 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - They so are just special needs and I love his teacher too so far. I hope her whole “safety is raising your hand as much as body safety” continues because who cares about the academics! Thank you!September 12, 2015 – 1:05 amReplyCancel

  • Michele - Ah! That baby picture of Tucker saying “yo mom” came just at the right time, as the lump in my throat was threatening to send tears spilling down my cheeks. You’ve captured the bittersweet end of summer and start to the school year just perfectly. I’m so glad for you and Tucker both that he’s found another wonderful teacher.September 11, 2015 – 2:47 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks Michele!!! It’s such a bittersweet time, really. And I’m so glad, too!!!September 12, 2015 – 1:06 amReplyCancel

  • marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Your son’s teacher sounds wonderful—a perfect fit! I think your boy is really going to enjoy first grade!September 11, 2015 – 11:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Danielle Dion - Oh my goodness. You’re killing me! My twins are only 2 but this, this is how I imagined their first day of school being. The first lunch and new backpacks wouldn’t get me, the hug goodbye wouldn’t get me. It would be the rush of safety concerns after the bus drives off with my babies and my inability to protect them from bullies that will break me. I hope that we find a teacher with a heart and genuine as your little guy’s seems to be. Good luck this year! I am sure he will do great 🙂September 11, 2015 – 11:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Ah…. I just love how you ended this. No WONDER you cried!! Could it be a more perfect fit? A more beautifully on purpose teacher, lesson, and plan? Now, I have tears too.

    Step forward and glance back, my friend. You do both so well…September 11, 2015 – 11:47 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - ***it’s about empathy and being accepted and accepting. That’s when I cried.***

    God gave you the RIGHT teacher, darling! xxxSeptember 12, 2015 – 11:22 amReplyCancel

  • Mardra Sikora - NOthing to add to this – it’s lovely – MsSeptember 12, 2015 – 3:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Alexa Haddock Bigwarfe - This made me tear up. I so get it. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful teacher for my son this year. 3rd grade is so tough so I”m glad he has her. 🙂 And secure mode… I hate it they even have to think about it.September 12, 2015 – 6:40 pmReplyCancel

  • K - I loved this whole post, Kristi, but I especially loved the part about Tucker’s teacher focusing on empathy and acceptance and her understanding that “special needs are just needs.”

    Your posts speak to me…and I am so so so glad that Tucker has such an awesome teacher. I’ve seen so many teachers that forget about promoting kindness and understanding and creating a safe place to learn because they’re hyperfocused on academics. And while academics are important, empathy and kindness need to be emphasized as well. xoSeptember 12, 2015 – 9:08 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so love that part too, K!! I completely agree with you about the academics piece and, in fact, emailed the principal at the beginning of the summer letting her know that we’re confident that the academics will come when they come and that we’d rather keep him excited about going to school.September 14, 2015 – 4:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Experienced Bad Mom - Sounds like your son has a great teacher and he’s on his way for first grade! I have been very emotional this week with school starting. I just can’t process that a week ago we were foot loose and fancy free and this week everything got crazy and I had no control anymore. Sigh!September 13, 2015 – 12:14 amReplyCancel

  • April G - I’m so happy that the start of the year has gone so well. It’s truly a blessing to have a teacher as wonderful as his.September 13, 2015 – 1:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki Gilbert - Oh those amazing teachers… how lucky we are to have them in our lives! And once again I am struck by YOUR empathy and kindness and compassion and the wonderful mother you are. “Blurry moments” “sentimental” – so so perfect. Love you xxSeptember 13, 2015 – 10:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Awww so warm and fuzzy! What’s up with all secure mode’s. Maybe these things always happened but they have different responses in place now. Seems like I’ve heard more and more here and there about a lockdown. So far so good that the locations haven’t turned out to be anything other than following protocol to whatever triggered the threat.

    I ran across a picture last week of Christopher doing kindergarten homework. Well it showed up in my Time Hop from 5 years ago! He had a pencil behind his ear. He needed it there while he wrote his name with another pencil. WHERE has the time gone. I couldn’t believe how little he was. And even though he’s growing growing growing and catching up to me, you don’t see that they aren’t little really until you look back on pictures. Waaaaah! Yeah I just teared up too!

    And just to add to the nostalgia, in 2010 there weren’t any secure modes, Sandy Hook hadn’t happened, and I could just walk into the school and say, “Hi Julie, I’m going into Christopher’s class” and I’d sign in and get a visitors pass. Now I ring the doorbell to a tinted door, identify myself and the purpose of my visit which seems dumb because it’s still Julie but this is what our world has come to.September 14, 2015 – 9:09 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The secure mode — jeez. We now have a meeting at the school tomorrow night. Turns out that the guy at the playground had a knife, was lying in the grass with his car idling behind him GULP GULP GULP…
      I know what you mean about the nostalgia and even with the age of six here I see photos of three and think how quickly it goes and *sob.*
      Sigh to the “Hi Julie” now being having to identify yourself and the purpose of your visit…September 20, 2015 – 11:36 amReplyCancel

  • Emily - After my son had a crappy kindergarten year (many moons ago), we insisted he needed a 1st grade teacher that knew how to run an inclusive classroom. Without sounding too dramatic, that teacher was a godsend. We knew the minute we met him (yes, a man teacher!), that all was going to be okay, just like you now know with Tucker…:)September 14, 2015 – 10:39 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m so sorry to read about a crappy kindergarten year but love that first grade was amazing. Also why are there not more male teachers in elementary? Tucker would so love that…September 20, 2015 – 11:38 amReplyCancel

  • Sara - Hey, Maybe T’s new teacher is a reader of your Our Land segments! Sounds like she is like-minded and sympatico. 🙂
    Knife and car running??? [email protected]! SO not okay. You’re teaching him duck-and-run moves, right? *gulp*
    Huge hugs to you & him.September 14, 2015 – 6:35 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sara! Gulp indeed. FUCKITYFUCK. We have a meeting at the school tomorrow night. The worst part is I don’t know what to even ask for for better safety. Sigh. xoSeptember 20, 2015 – 11:39 amReplyCancel

  • COMike - Nice post Kristi! It is amazing the impact (good or bad) a teacher has on our kids. We have experienced both sides of this coin. The fun part is our chances either way are higher (double!) as have 2 kids (as you know). 🙂

    It was a very odd feeling when we learned about “Safe Mode” at our school too. Odd most likely being sadness as we learned and watched some of the precious innocence in our children evaporate due to real world ugliness from others.

    Say “Hi” to Tuck for me and us.September 16, 2015 – 8:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Mike! Safe mode sucks. The worst part is what to do to make it better? The world needs fewer psychos. Sigh. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment – what a treat really! Happy happy birthday, old man 😉September 20, 2015 – 11:40 amReplyCancel

  • Mimi - I ❤️ This Kristi!! You have that disclaimer at the end, but I don’t know what you have to apologize for. It’s just so beautiful and rings true for mamas everywhere about stumbling and falling into fall and looking back even as we move forward. You capture the essence of school starting perfectly. xoSeptember 16, 2015 – 8:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Mimi!! You’re the sweetest and sigh to the stumbling and falling and looking back and looking forward. I suppose it’s universal. But it never feels like it when we live it, ya know? I hope you’re having a gorgeous Sunday!September 20, 2015 – 11:43 amReplyCancel

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