Yesterday, like many mothers sending her child off to Kindergarten, I shed a tear as I watched my five-year-old stroll joyfully onto the bus. I tossed and turned the night before wondering how her day would go. I was both ecstatic and anxious as she was set to embark on an incredible milestone. My tiny tears were those of happiness, hope, and excitement.
Three weeks ago, this was not the same carefree kid that realized her educational journey was beginning. Instead, fear seemed to hit her out of the blue on a Thursday evening. I heard sobbing coming from her bedroom. I knew that these were not tears of pain, and I wondered what could possibly be the source of the tears.
“Mommy, what if no one likes me in Kindergarten?” she inquired when I snuggled in closely.
While my first reaction was to laugh at my social butterfly fearing friendship, I realized how serious her worry was at that moment. Apprehension quickly escalated the more she began to think about Kindergarten and all of its components. Her concerns included eating lunch in a cafeteria, riding on the bus, and meeting a new teacher. Of all of the worries I have had this summer and fears that I have attempted to face, these were hers and quite valid they were.
Her brother experienced these same troubles and overheard our conversation. He happily asked to join our conversation and assured Kelsey that everything would be just fine. He also shared some tips. My favorite piece of advice from the seven-year-old sage came when Kelsey noted that each new child would actually be a stranger on that first day. My son replied, “that is true Kels. If you are not sure about the kids on the first day, just say, ‘Hi! My name is Kelsey, maybe we can play tomorrow?’ Then watch them during the first day and decide if you’d like to play with them the next day.” Then my wise son shook his head and said, “On second thought, maybe you can just say, ‘would you like to be my friend?’ These will be the kids in your class all year long so you might as well just make friends the second you meet them.”
The two young scholars continued the discussion for almost thirty minutes with advice, worries, and tips to master the art of Kindergarten.
Kelsey’s trepidation followed by complete comfort in her brother’s words forced me to marvel at the thought of childhood and its innocence. The fears she had were quite legitimate, and the only ones I wish she ever had.
When the bus halted, I watched her linger and carefully observe the bigger kids. She was not entirely sure what to do at first. Then, she looked back, gave a wee wave and bounced on the bus full of hope and excitement. The educational journey of my daughter had officially begun.
Later on that evening, Kelsey wanted her big brother to know that she took his advice. “Today, I saw a girl with her head down. Maybe she was sad or scared. I didn’t even know her name but I said, ‘Hi, I’m Kelsey. Do you want to be my friend? Guess what, she did!” Beaming with excitement over friendship and her brother’s wisdom, I could not help but smile and get a little bit teary eyed.
The tiny tears that made it difficult to finish cooking dinner represented joy, pride, and part of the notion that I must be doing something right. I guess tonight was a milestone for me as a mother, too.
To my Kindergarten girl and second grade star, I hope that you always remember:
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!