Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

5 Things I Don’t Want My Child to Learn in Kindergarten

| 6 Comments

15500479782_6dc57097fb (1)

I can’t believe it. My son, my last baby, is about to head off to kindergarten in a matter of days. While I’m excited for him, I’m a bit heartbroken to say goodbye to the preschool years, and nervous about this new journey he’s beginning, into the world of academia and tying his shoes. In honor of this big milestone, here’s a second look at a post I wrote when my daughter entered elementary school. This one is for all you kindergarten mamas out there. Stay strong!

It’s that time of summer. The kids’ worn, faded bathing suits are ready to retire to the back of the dresser, beside the bunny ears and St. Patty’s Day shirts. Tiny sweatshirts hang next to backpacks in the kids’ cubbies at camp. Plans for barbecues and picnics slowly fade into visions of apple-picking, school bells, and Tarantinoinspired tactics for grabbing that last Frozen backpack at Target.

But this year, something is different. My daughter, my “baby” girl, is heading off to kindergarten. No more will I drop her off at the local YMCA for a few leisurely hours of circle time, finger-painting, and arguments over who gets the baby doll whose head hasn’t been pulled off. These are the big leagues: language arts, science, math . . . lunch from a tray instead of a brown paper bag.

And yet, as excited as I am for her, I’m nervous too. You see, I think my daughter is pretty much perfect the way she is (tantrums over “needing” to wear her Elsa tiara to camp aside). She’s funny, imaginative, and most of all, open to everyone she meets. The real world has a way of stifling these traits — of hardening even the tenderest of little hearts.

And so, as my daughter marches off to that big, yellow school bus, here are the 5 things I hope she won’t be learning at kindergarten this year.

1. People are mean. Yes, this includes five-year-olds. My daughter attended afternoon pre-K last year, and rode the bus home with some kindergartners. I was amazed at the conversations she’d report back to me. It was as though she had suddenly flipped a switch from Sesame Street to Mean Girls. From taunts about toys to one boy’s plans to one day get a gun (after learning how to tie his shoes, of course), it was a glimpse into a brave new world for my baby. My heart breaks when I envision the girls who won’t play with her at recess, or the little boys who used to be her friends, who no longer want to share their Legos or their time with a girl. I wish I could be there by her side, shielding her from every cruel word or rejection. Instead, Mommy must remain at home, silently plotting the demise of that girl who called my daughter’s doll ugly.

2. She can be mean. My daughter has yet to discover her power to hurt others — to use words to injure, to exclude, to bully. I hope that she’ll always be this sweet and good-natured. But as we all know, when kids get together, play is not always nice. Short of having the Golden Rule tattooed on her forehead (where she wouldn’t be able to see it, anyway), all I can do is trust her to remember the kindness and respect we teach and (try to) practice at home.

3. There are wrong ways of doing things. There’s no place like preschool. As long as you don’t run with scissors or whack anyone over the head with your juice box, you pretty much can do no wrong. Draw a red squiggle on a piece of construction paper; it gets hung up on the wall. Paint a three-legged princess with a green face; you’re “creative.” When my daughter gets to kindergarten, she’ll be faced with the notion that there are right answers, wrong ways of solving problems. That she needs to color in the lines. Kindergarten marks an entry into more standardized ways of thinking about and solving problems. I’m not sure I’m ready for this first check on her previously unbounded imagination.

4. Other kids have more. Don’t get me wrong; my kids have plenty of stuff. But they don’t have designer clothes or pricey playthings. My daughter tends to parade around in the same favorite dress, and I’ve never seen the point in buying expensive toys that my kids break five minutes after opening the box (especially since they generally prefer to play with the box). As my daughter’s social circle expands, she’s bound to notice that she doesn’t have an American Girl doll, or that she spent her spring break playing soccer instead of waiting three hours to meet Elsa at Disney World. And she’ll have questions. We’ll probably explain that we have everything we need right here. Or, we’ll distract her with a spontaneous viewing of My Little Pony. But I know her questions will only get harder, and it’ll be our job to explain to a kid who just wants an iPad what real abundance is all about.

5. Mommy is not the center of the world. Until now, my daughter has wanted to do everything with Mommy. From playtime to storytime, we’ve been inseparable companions — at times the tightest of allies; others, the bitterest of foes. But lately I’m starting to notice a subtle shift. Lately, she’s been wanting to play with her friend next door, disappearing for hours at a time with her princess gown and wand, playing games with no role for Mommy. Soon she’ll be at kindergarten, making new friends, broadening her world, getting sucked into lunchroom scandals and playground intrigues. When she comes home, and I prod her for the sordid details of kindergarten life, I can look forward to her informative response: “I don’t know, Mommy. Got any food?”

Starting kindergarten is a special milestone in both our lives. I know my little girl is going to love it, and I know she’s ready. I’m a little less ready. But I guess it’s all part of motherhood: letting go, embracing the adventures and daily perils of growing up. I suppose I just have to remember that no matter what goes on all day at school — which girl won’t share her doll, or which new word she stumbles over — at the end of the day, that big, wonderful yellow bus will arrive, to take my baby home to the mother who loves her.

 * * *

Mom A_Z couch final cover 12 lo res

Buy the book! For more Mommy madness, check out my book Mommy A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the Joys, Wonders, and Absurdities of Motherhood, available at AmazonBn.com and Apple

Like this blog? Click below to vote for Mommy A to Z on Top Mommy Blogs! Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

6 Comments

  1. One of my favorite posts!

  2. Great memories

  3. Our babies are only “ours” for 18 years — sort of. Letting go is the hardest part. I am a Grandma and I felt exactly the same way when my last one went off to kindergarten. What a wonderful blog! Thank you.

  4. I totally enjoyed every word of your blog about your little princess angel going to kindergarten. You are a very talented writer so please keep writing, it is appreciated! I write in a similar way, using humor whenever possible, so again thank you for an intelligent, well written post, with humor and heart.
    On Facebook, I am at Jeanine Michaels-Leftwich, and ” our” dog blog is:
    http://www.wusuppups.com
    Hope you will stop by for a visit!

    • PS I, Jeanine am the mother of 2 amazing children, and we have been through all of these transitions. My daughter is turning 30 next month, and son is 28. Both returned to the nest and are living at home with us. And both have college degrees, daughter graduated Summa Cum Laude, AND, had to repeat kindergarten!

  5. yes you are totally right. this blog is very well written. we can only sit back and think about what our kid might be going through and all we can do is to listen to them and lovingly prepare them for outside world

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: