When in his "standard / at home mode", Zach is loud, goofy, playful, joking, outgoing, witty and charming. However, he can also be quite intense and serious; even nervous. He likes to know what's coming, and loves learning anything, so he is never the child goofing off during instructions. Every teacher he's ever had refers to him as a "good role model", so we know they see the serious Zach more often than the goofball.
But his seriousness results in more than just being a good role model. He gets nervous. He thinks intensely about what is about to happen, what might happen, what should happen, what could go wrong... Sometimes he gets overwhelmed by all the information he's trying to process. Sometimes he's nervous because he feels unprepared. Sometimes he just wants to be perfect. Often we see it coming on and can talk him through it. Prayer always calms him. But last night his intense nervousness sneaked up on us.
This has been his school for a year and a half. He is comfortable here. We love him. His teacher loves him. He loves all of us. However...
He'd been out of school sick on Monday and Wednesday, so he missed the day that his class did a dry run of their student-led conference. He didn't know exactly what to do, and...while we noticed the change in his demeanor right away...it was too late to preempt the seriously intense Zach.
And I didn't think to quietly take him aside to encourage him and pray the moment I noticed the change. (Kicking myself.)
Before entering the classroom, he was bouncing off the walls to show us all of his artwork and projects in the pod. But the moment his parents and teacher were in the same room, he clammed up. He answered his teacher's questions, but barely responded to our praise, comments or jokes.
After the classroom meeting, we went back out to the pod to look around at their stations. He enjoyed showing us around, but teachers were still passing by and he was still on edge. As if he was performing. He does not love performing.
We chatted with several friends and hit the book fair on the way out. It was only then -- on the way out -- that his old goofy self returned.
I love that Zach is well-behaved. I love that we can send him anywhere with anyone and never worry about his behavior. But I hate that he seems to feel pressure to be perfect. He certainly doesn't have to be perfect for us; and I believe he knows this. In fact, Zachary would define perfect as trying his best; not necessarily being the best. But there is still so much pressure for him in the trying.
I pray that Zach would always have the right perspective of himself; knowing that he is good and well-loved regardless of achievement or performance. And I pray that with time and experience, he feels more confident, less stressed, and even happy to have his parents poking around in his private life.
We're not going anywhere, Son. As your birth announcement said; "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We are so well pleased and completely in love.