The Beginning — And End — Of Kindergarten Is So Bittersweet

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Dear kindergarten teacher,

Thank you for doing this work. I know it’s not easy or well-paid or glamorous. I know your job is 2/3 herding cats and 1/3 repetition. I know there is always a handful of kids who aren’t ready, a handful who are “strong willed” and bunch that listen well enough that you can trust them to do what they’re told while you deal with the previous two groups. I know you’re going to do your best. I know you’re already tired. If there is any kind of afterlife, I’m sure kindergarten teachers move to the front of the line at the pearly gates. I know my child will be guided through his first full academic year under your wing and I know you’ll do your best.

I also know you’ll that while you’re growing to know my son, you’ll never know him like I do, so allow me to make some introductions.

This boy is my heart walking around outside my body. He is newly five and has flourished in his small preschool group, but this new school and all these new faces are overwhelming.

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He can get his feelings hurt very easily, he’ll take to heart a joke that might go over the heads of his peers. He excels at the silent treatment. He can be very stubborn. Sometimes he gets cranky for no reason and needs to be left alone until he crawls out of his mood. He gets scared by loud noises and strangers. He still begs for someone to cuddle him before bed. He sleeps on top of the covers, no matter how cold it gets at night. He spends the whole ride home from daycare trying to make his sister laugh. Sometimes he tells me he’s hungry and he just wants to “eat that baby up for dinner!” He picks me flowers every day. He wants to dig for buried treasure, loves rocks, and keeps bringing ladybugs into the house because they are “so cute!”

 

He is still so little, and school is so big. Kids can be so mean, even when they don’t realize it. He isn’t as loud or rough and tumble as other little boys. He doesn’t like getting dirty or wet. He needs to watch everyone else try something before he gets the gumption up to do it himself. He’s an empath and watching other people get yelled at makes him upset, even if he’s done nothing wrong. He can be very shy at first, but will warm up quickly. In the last year he’s moved to a new house and welcomed a new sibling and dealt with both very well, but sometimes he needs a little babying. He is still my baby, you know.

Teacher, I hope you’ll grow to love my guy. I hope he shows you all his good and you can understand when he’s having a rough day. I hope you’ll expand his world and show him all that he is capable of accomplishing. I hope you’ll help me feel comfortable with him being a little fish in a great big pond. I hope you’ll alleviate some of my fears–that he’ll be picked on or walked over or overlooked, that he’ll grow to hate going to school, that he’ll decide he’s not smart and check out of his own education.

I know these worries are common. I know you’ve heard them all before. I know you’ll smile sweetly at me and tell me, “He’ll be fine, I promise, I’m here to help.” I know your job is 1/3 repetition, so I hope you won’t mind when I check in with you again. And again.  And again.

Kindergarten teacher, I hope our year together is bittersweet all the way through. I hope we can share moments through the year to marvel at how he’s thriving. I hope I see you in June, with the same anxieties about leaving your class that I have about entering it.

And then I hope you’ll tell me, once again, “He’ll be fine.”

I’m going to need to hear it.

Sincerely,
My kid’s mom

 

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