To The Parent Of A Kindergartener

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So-here we are.  Face to face with 8th grade graduation.  Just. Like.  That. 10 years have come and gone. I keep looking at the calendar-who stole time? I mean, maybe someone should have given me a yearly countdown. You know, kind of a soft reminder.

Our son had baby teeth when he began school. He lost those, grew a new set, added braces, and now he’s working on a mustache. He didn’t know our phone number back then, and now he has a phone of his own. In K4 he took naps.  Now he stays up later than me most nights. His voice is shedding its youthful tone almost daily. And now it’s goodbye to the days of show and tell. Farewell recess.

These years didn’t pass without  growing pains.  For all of us.  So as I look back, I wonder what words of comfort my younger self and other parents could use.

Savor every single hug and kiss you get (from your kid-I’m not talking about random strangers here). Every.  Single.  One.

Don’t worry about the math homework.  Okay worry. Alot.  Tears will be shed.  You will feel less than smart.  Your kid may think you are less than smart. Keep calm and ask the teacher for help.

There are classroom rules put in place by teachers.  Follow them-they got this.  I kid you not. I had a bag violation when the storage bag for our son’s’ clothing was too big. Epic fail. But just like we tell our kids-the rules may seem ridiculous-you don’t have to like them-but obey them.  You are not the teacher.

Backpack mail isn’t what it sounds like.  It actually needs to taken out of the backpack. Do not assume you were skipped for the permission slip for the year’s most amazing field trip.  Look in the kid’s backpack.  Squished and crumpled in the tattered binder-under the sweatshirt and last week’s now rotting bag lunch. Yeah-there.

Know that your child may not be invited to every party or sleep over.  There will be hurt feelings.  Harsh words. Games lost. It will rip your heart out.  Be there for them-because too many times they feel no one else is.

Follow the flow of the carpool line. Don’t be that parent. Trust me.  Just don’t.

Remember the grade on the science project is your child’s-not yours. (But yes, it was a spectacular Solar System). And yes, we can tell which kids’ parents were Comm Arts majors and those who majored in Engineering.

Snow days aren’t convenient to adults, but man, to a kid….

Get to know the other parents.  They will be your lifeline. They will remind you about assignment due dates, game start times, and days off school.  They will make parenting less isolating. And some of them will  take Mom’s Night Out to a whole new level.

Find out what the other kids in your kids’ unit like for lunch.  Because the truth is that’s who’s actually eating those lunches you pack.

You don’t need to agree with the teachers.  Or like them.  Sometimes the most meaningful lessons are non-academic and involve learning  to navigate life’s uncomfortable relationships. But understand these folks are on the front lines and are well prepared to handle unexpected insects, spills, coughs, sudden illness, scrapes, book orders, clashing personalities, hundreds of dollars in field trip fees, endless stacks of permission slips, and missing lunches.

Understand teachers are human.  They may be going through divorce, have partners that are ill, spouses that have passed away, children of their own dealing with heavy issues, and literally hundreds of parents and students to interact with.  Yet they show up-nurturing, encouraging, coaching, mentoring, and teaching our kids.  I mean, who else gets that giddy when they buy a Costco sized pack of gold stars? Or bright banners for a classroom? Have you looked, I mean really looked, at these folks in the classroom? Next time you see your youngster skipping across the parking lot on their way into school-just know these adults are a big reason why. You bet they can have the summer off.

Don’t worry about which art projects and home-made stuff to keep.  Keep them all for now.  And look at them often. Chances are you have more shoes you than you need and you made room for them.  Just sayin’.

Enjoy the fact that sports are truly for fun.  Because soon enough you will be screaming plays from the sidelines as if there were college scouts in the crowd.  There won’t be any. But there will be some great relationships and conversations that develop with the other parents as you watch your kiddos play. It’s amazing how much comfort can be found in sharing a lawn chair and hand warmers.

Do not knock the PTO parents.  Seriously, these folks are responsible for getting things done.   Nuff said.

Take no one at your kid’s school for granted.  From the staff that checks your student in before and after school, to the playground assistants, to the janitorial staff, to the office admins to the TA’s.  A well-run school is no accident.

The smell of a stone hallway filled with soggy winter boots.  The sounds of overlapping, endless giggles in the classroom.  The sight of a playground filled with kids running in every direction. As a parent these events-these times-occur with such frequency you think they’ll never end.  But they do. To the parent of a kindergartener- 10 years is the quickest, longest time you may ever know.

 

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