This past month my daughter and four million other five year olds in the United States started kindergarten. Standing next to them on that appointed day were eight million of us parents and caregivers, each a basket case of emotion. How could someone who was entirely dependant on us for survival only a few years ago (and for some forgettable moments this past week) survive the perils of kindergarten? When did she become so grown up? Will she be able to speak up for herself? Will she be lonely? Can she handle the rough and tumble playground politics or just sit still during class?
And then I pause. She can brush her own teeth. She can reach the light switch. She puts her own clothes on before waking us parental figures up, at times with “interesting” results. She is the one who lectures me to keep two hands on the steering wheel and will defend her little sister when I speak with a little too much tone in my voice. She will bargain, with surprising deftness, for her own interests. And she can tell us with agonizing precision what, when, and how she wants something with the seemingly irrefutable logic of a 5 year old mind. Now I’m thinking she will be just fine and it is the teacher and her classmates who we should worry about.
I am so excited about her first step into the academic world. Yes, it is just kindergarten, but I see it as a powerful partner in nurturing a great love of learning. These days she is brimming with wonder. Each statement I make is followed by two questions. “What are they talking about on the radio?,” she will ask on our morning drive to daycare. “Oh, just the Syrian conflict and crushing impact of the recession on real families,” I explain. I am hoping school will help with that too.
So with all that in my head I asked her one day if there was anything about kindergarten that scared her. Unfamiliar faces? How to find the bathroom? High expectations? She gave me a rather nonchalant look and said , “Hmmm, I am not scared of anything”. Now that’s my girl.
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