Be Kind, Use Manners: Thoughts on the First Day of Kindergarten


I didn’t notice until I was cleaning the bathroom the other day.  I picked up the step stool to sweep and realized he hadn’t used it since much earlier in the summer.  He didn’t need it anymore, he was tall enough to brush his teeth and wash his hands without it.  I feel like that’s how the last year has gone.  All of a sudden he’s doing another ‘big kid thing’ before I even have time to stop and think about it.  No training wheels, jumping in the deep end of the pool, Birthday parties with friends, asking me to change to a ‘cooler’ song on the radio… it all just sort of….happened.

And it’s all been leading to this: 

Next week, he starts Kindergarten.  

I know in the grand scheme of things a child starting Kindergarten isn’t unique, thousands of kids have or will start school this year.  I’m not the only mom looking at her sleeping child wondering where on Earth the last 5 years went.  I’m not the only one who can think back 30 some odd years and still remember the sound of their own mother’s voice cracking when they were off to their own first day of school.  But that’s the thing about motherhood, we all feel our own stories so much.  

Sometimes it all feels so big.

When my son was a baby I read development charts like it was my job.  I knew exactly what a baby his age ‘should’ be doing.  And if he wasn’t doing it yet I had researched a million reasons why.  I blame my obsession partly on being a first time mom and partly on anxiety.  As time went on I  gained confidence in myself and confidence that he would hit milestones when he was ready.  As I realized some things would happen earlier than what ‘they’ said and some would take longer, I relaxed a little – a lot.  

Now, I sit here on this August night hoping I did enough to get him ready to go out in this big world (I know he’s not going to college, but it kind of feels like it).  I didn’t buy flash cards or preschool workbooks.  We tried for weeks  days  like 10 minutes to teach him how to tie his shoes, then the baby needed something or dinner was ready and now the first day of school is upon us and I feel like I’ve failed him.  I’m probably {definitely} being dramatic but isn’t that what we moms do?  We put pressure on ourselves to do it all and to do it all perfectly.  

We have this thing when he’s going somewhere without me, I say ‘what do you need to remember?’, and he says ‘be kind and use manners’.  And all I can hope when my sweet boy heads to Kindergarten next week is that he remembers that.

He will not be able to tie his shoes without help.  He will probably take way too long to eat his lunch and he will probably need to be reminded not to talk when his teacher is talking.  But I also know he will figure all of those things out.  I hope if he sees a boy or girl that needs a friend he will ask them about their favorite toys, ask them if they want to swing with him or talk to them at lunch (but not too much, because he seriously takes forever to eat).  And if my boy is the one having a tough day I hope there’s someone there to be a friend to him.  

If there’s anything this world needs more of it’s good friends, kind words and manners.  

If you’re feeling some First Day of School anxiety, check out our Contributor, Bri’s fantastic posts about what happens the first week of school and how to prepare for pre-conferences.