I was talking to a mom the other day. A mom, younger than I am with children just getting the feel of the ground beneath their feet. In other words, a six year-old and a four year-old. Oh, how I remember those days.
She sent her son to a private kindergarten where everyone was taught to hug and be nice. That’s a pretty easy lesson for five year-olds. They still hold onto an innocence that the world is the way their adults tell them it will be. But this mother was concerned that kind of lollipop thinking wouldn’t translate into public school so she had him repeat kindergarten in her town. You know, get him ready for big league thinking. Hmmm….I thought. Kindergarten isn’t the problem.
As parents, we make so many decisions in the name of love. And when our oldest is only six the big scary world of public education looks more like a fire breathing dragon with fangs to its knees than what it really is. We can’t fathom the problems our children will be facing at the middle school or high school level because we aren’t there yet. We think kindergarten problems are the end of the world and we want to protect our children from them.
Looking back on the days when my Noodges were younger I see how simple their issues were. I could still manage their problems and their reactions to them. Reverse psychology was my best friend. You don’t want to wear your coat outside, little four year-old, okay, but don’t complain to me when you’re cold. Jacket on. Done deal. Not so easy now. Little Suzie was mean to you on the playground? I have a solution for that. And my child stared on with wide eyes and head nodding ready to handle the brat on the playground the next day. Now if I give advice on how to handle Suzie who on Monday wants to be your best friend, but on Tuesday decides she’s ditching you for the field hockey team, ignoring you in the hallway when you say hello and sending pictures she took of you to her boyfriend even after she swore she had deleted them, gets a response like: “I can’t say that!”
And what business does a seventh grade girl have with a boyfriend? That only leads to the fourteen year old freshman who ends up pregnant. Yes, Noodge 1 has three of those girls in his grade. How about that? And that mom I spoke with is worried about five year-olds not playing nice?
Here’s what I think we do: we take our grown-up, over-thought feelings and emotions, and transpose them onto our little darlings’ situations. We create problems where there are none. We think because we feel worry or concern that they will too. I remember being so upset when Noodge 2 wasn’t invited to a birthday party in the first or second grade. How dare that mother leave my child out when she had been invited to Noodge’s party? Who did she think she was? I ranted and raved to my friends only to find out, she was invited. I felt foolish. I had taken my own insecurities and dirtied the whole situation with them assuming she’d left out my child. It never crossed Noodge 2’s mind she might not be invited. I’m glad I held my tongue.
I wish I had said to this young, kindergarten mom that another year in kindergarten isn’t going to harden her kid to the ways of the world. The other kids in class are the least of your worries at this age. He’s going to adapt and be just fine. It’s your hang-up that has him repeating kindergarten.
My point here? Don’t sweat the small stuff. That old, tired out cliche still has enough life in it to be heard. What you think is a big deal, isn’t. Not the other kids, not the schools, not the grades, not the sports. It’s us. Plain and simple. We need to leave our hang-ups at the door.