Today I am nervous. First day of school nervous. The thing is, today isn’t my first day of school. Today is my child’s first day of kindergarten. If you are a parent, you probably know exactly how I feel this morning. How will she take everything? Is she scared? Is she anxious? Will she eat her thoughtfully packed lunch without me hovering over her? Will she find the bathroom? Most of all…how will the other kids treat her and how will she treat them?
I have (in my perfectly biased opinion) one of the sweetest and most thoughtful 5 year olds on the planet. Yes, she does throw if not fits, certainly expressions of displeasure. She knows how to talk back and delay doing what I’ve asked her to do. As her parent I have reacted calm, not so calm, and downright mental depending on a multitude of factors. Unfortunately she will no longer be cloistered in her family’s protected womb. She is entering the “real world”. Okay that was a stretch, but it is pretty real from a five year old’s perspective. I remember school with some fond memories and some no so fond memories. Kids can be utterly cruel even at an age as young as five and six. My child for all her faults is generally empathetic and kind hearted. On a good note, I am thrilled that my child now has the opportunity to meet some real and semi-permanent friends. You can only meet so many people randomly at a playground. Up to this point, my child’s best friend is her younger brother, which has been awesome for both of them. I realize now that her five magical years of frolicking, goofing off, and running around aimlessly on occasion are over. I do realize it’s only kindergarten but believe me — it’s not the kindergarten you went to. Kindergarten has become the new first grade. I didn’t even know until yesterday that you can even fail kindergarten. How does one do that? Fail to read? Eat paste repeatedly? I did stumble across a few rules from the kindergarten rule book. Do not bring guns, knives, bombs and landmines to school. I am not making this up. I couldn’t make something this baffling up. I mean really…land mines? They’re five. I digress. What about education?
My child loves letters, numbers, writing, counting, shapes, maps, nature, animals, coloring, painting, cutting and pasting. She also loves acting, singing and trying to read. I have read countless articles regarding kindergarten in well-respected publications. Unfortunately these articles have not alleviated my fears – they have enhanced them. In a nut shell, I do not want my child to lose her love of learning. I know that my child is probably not going to be the next Picasso, Pele or 12 year old Harvard freshman. However, my child is curious and interested in learning. Too many youngsters decide far too early that learning is a chore. Science kits give way to makeup kits. Reading books give way to internet browsing. Writing and painting give way to texting. God forbid sexting. (Let’s skip teenage years).
Hopefully at 2:00pm, all of my fears will have been for naught. I hope my goofy, happy go lucky child runs up to me and tells me how great school was today. With any luck today will be the first day on the path to educational and socializing success. I wish all parents good luck today!