Monday, August 25, 2014

A letter to my son on his first day of kindergarten

Dear D,

So, this is it. Today you officially start your academic career. It's your first day of kindergarten.

At 6:45 this morning, you bounced into our bed with your own charming alarm sound. You were ready to go! I, on the other hand, was not so ready to let you go.

I spent the night thinking of how, surely, it was just last week that we brought you home from the hospital. I thought of those early, exhausting days when we were first getting to know each other. The days of delirium. I was deliriously happy to finally have you safe in my arms after a hard pregnancy. And deliriously tired from nursing you every two hours around the clock to get you back to your birth weight. But we eventually figured things out and settled into a routine.

I thought about how you were so alert and curious even from a very early age. I remember pushing you around Target and how you would get so excited when you saw flash cards. They were your favorite toy and we spent endless hours together practicing as you would pull out your favorite set and ask to play. I'll never forget the day when  you were 20 months old and we were walking around downtown. You saw a sign and you ran to it, excitedly pointing to each letter and saying its name. You really took off from there. On your second birthday, you realized that the letters on your birthday cake spelled your name. By three, car rides got very interesting, as you would call out the words you saw on signs, and buildings, and roads...and pretty much everything. By four, you could read anything, but your favorite thing to read about was space. By five, you were reading to yourself, and already I miss hearing you read when you don't think I'm listening.

On the other hand, not everything has come easily to you. If you find something to be difficult, you are far too quick to give up. This is something we've been working on, and mommy and daddy remind you often that, just like John F. Kennedy said, " the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." So much comes easily to you, son, but you will feel more accomplishment and pride when you conquer the hard things. For the longest time, you were afraid of water. Now you love to swim and are getting better and better with each class. Doesn't it feel great to see how far you've come? And riding your bike. You had the hardest time figuring out those pedals. Now you can ride your bike up and down the street. We'll keep working on it, and soon you'll ditch the training wheels and be flying down the street--safely, of course!

I thought about all the walks in the park, our trips to Joann where you played on my phone while I shopped for fabric, our garage sale hunts where I gave you a dollar to spend but you rarely did because you charmed everyone into giving you the things you wanted.

I thought about our mommy and son dates to your favorite restaurant, Chick-Fil-A, and how now, whenever we got to a restaurant, it just doesn't measure up if it doesn't have grilled chicken, fresh fruit, and apple juice...and french fries to share.

I thought about the things you've loved: first Elmo, then Thomas the Train, and now NASA and all things space. I smiled when I thought about how last week, when we were hosting a college student from Moldova, you drew a five stage rocket as you lectured him on flight dynamics. I can't wait to see if your dreams of being a rocket scientist come true. Or even if you will still want to work on rockets when you grow up.

But mostly, when I think about what you will be like when you are an adult, I hope that you love God. I pray that you will thank God for the mind that He has given you, and not let your intelligence keep you from knowing Him. Many of the early space pioneers, both on the ground and in the atmosphere, were believers, and learning about the created instilled in them a greater awe for the Creator. I am so thankful that our pastor is a former rocket scientist, and has taken you under his wing, to answer your many, many questions, not only about the universe, but also the God who created it.

It's a mommy's job to think about such things: the man you will be, the boy you are, and the baby you've been.

I thought about how, for the last six and half years, since I first learned you were in my tummy, how your well-being consumed my thoughts--where were you? were you safe? do you need to eat? drink? sleep? be changed? get clean? be held? As you got older and I could step away for a few moments, to go to the bathroom by myself, for example, you would still want to be near me and would wait, not-so-patiently outside the door, or, more often than not, inside the door.

I thought about how this summer you have grown more independent. You were such a happy baby and toddler. You completely skipped the terrible twos and threes. But five has been the year of NO! as you have have learned to assert yourself and express your ideas of how the world should work. And you have such detailed ideas! I think that was God's way of preparing me to let you go to school!

You actually started school two years ago, at preschool in Miss Jodi's class. How I sobbed after I dropped you off that first day. And that was for just two and half hours, two days a week! But I didn't know what to do with those five hours a week without you! I ended up learning to sew so I could have a hobby to fill my hours. Last year, you went to school all day three times a week. It was a perfect arrangement. I had solid blocks of time to sew, but we still had two days of "just us" time. Today, though, we start a whole new routine. For the next thirteen years, you will be in school and I will be home, missing you and wondering where the time has gone.

Last week, we attended your kindergarten open house. Your new classroom is just down the hall from where you were in Pre-K, so you already know your school. Your new teacher was the other preschool teacher, and your classes often mingled. You know Miss H and she knows you. When we spoke to her as you were settled in corner reading a book, she told us she was familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, and was already talking with the other teachers about how to give you the best year yet.

So many of your friends from Pre-K are in your kindergarten class, so I know that you will have so much fun catching up with everyone. And as we left, you saw a little girl in tears, partly for fear of a new school, and partly because the class looked so fun she didn't want to leave. You gave her a big hug and said you would be her friend. My heart nearly burst with pride. I hope you are making her feel welcome the way your friends made you feel welcome last year when you joined the class weeks after everyone else.

D, You are going to do great. If you are anything like your mommy and daddy---and we know you are--you are going to continue to love school and won't miss me a bit. And that's just the way it should be.


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  1. What a sweet letter! And I love the NASA backpack. :)

    1. Thank you, and yes, we are still deep in the space age here. He cannot wait for our trip to Houston!


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