Don’t Tell Your Kids Kindergarten Will Be Fun, and Other Life Lessons
I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from kids and grandkids, and I’m including a few of the choicest tidbits here. Maybe reading them will help you avoid some pitfalls along the way.
Lesson #One: Don’t tell your children kindergarten will be fun.
This lesson sucker punched me on my son’s first day of kindergarten, when he rode his bike to school. He pedaled happily along and I trailed slightly behind, close enough to make sure he was safe but far enough away to avoid embarrassing him.
What I witnessed next hurt.
No sooner had my sweet joyful boy parked his bike at the bike rack than another kindergartener zoomed up. This kid looked tough. His hair was spiked, his shoes were scruffy, and his bike didn’t have training wheels.
“Training wheels!” he sneered, kicking my son’s bike over.
My heart broke.
Flash forward 25 years to my son’s daughter, Camille.
She went cheerfully off to her first day of kindergarten, having been told it would be fun! But on the second day, she pressed her little hands against the sides of the school bus and screamed. This was a standoff, and she was determined to push herself away from the looming specter of another day at school.
Her mother promised her a toy if she would get on the bus.
What could possibly have produced this transformation from high expectations to dread?
It seems Camille had gotten left behind on the playground the day before because she missed the teacher’s signal that recess was over. For this transgression she received a yellow slip, which was some sort of demerit.
A few days after the school bus fiasco, Camille’s teacher contacted her parents to tell them Camille was not playing with the other children at recess. All she did was stare at the teacher. This was cause for concern.
Trying not to sound alarmed, Camille’s mother said, “So what’s going on at recess? Are you having fun playing with the other children?”
“I can’t play. I need to watch the teacher to make sure I don’t miss her signal to go inside. I don’t want another yellow paper,” Camille replied.
When the teacher was informed, she decided to boost Camille’s confidence by making her line leader. Camille had loved being line leader in preschool, but she came home from kindergarten in tears and told her parents it was the worst day of her life.
“Camille, you’ve always been a wonderful line leader!” Her mother said.
But what happened was, the children were lined up behind Camille, who was eager to lead them outside to play. Then the teacher turned abruptly and walked to the cupboard.
Camille, schooled early in the unchanging truth that line leaders always follow the teacher, led the entire flock of kindergarteners to the cupboard.The teacher, whirling around in surprise, exclaimed, “Children, you were not supposed to follow me here. Camille led you the wrong way!”
These are some of the reasons you don’t tell your children that kindergarten will be fun. They’ll get used to school eventually and learn to make their own way, as Camille did when she entered Middle School and decided she wanted to wear the boy’s uniform instead of the girl’s uniform in chorus.
Evidently there had never been such a request, because the teachers, counselors and chorus leaders huddled together in hastily-called conferences before finally agreeing to let Camille choose whichever uniform she wanted.
When I attended her first chorus performance, Camille happily wore black pants and a black shirt instead of the knee length black dress worn by the other girls.
But enough about school. I promised you a few life lessons, so I’ve listed some more things. I don’t need to go into detail because they’re self-explanatory. Take them to heart, add a few of your own, and you’ll spare yourself a lot of grief.
Life Lesson #Two: If you play baseball with the kids, promise them 10 SWINGS at bat, not ten HITS apiece, or you’ll be outside all day.
Life Lesson #Three: If you give them pizza and brownies with chocolate frosting for lunch, take off their shirts before they eat (this one’s for toddlers).
Life Lesson #Four: Don’t roll the car windows down so the kids can stick their arms out the window unless you are absolutely certain no one will throw a shoe out.
Life Lesson #Five: If one of them likes to play in the toilet, make sure the others flush.
Life Lesson #Six:
Last but not least, enjoy them, because they grow up faster than you think.