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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dear Owen, as you head to Kindergarten,

Dear Owen,

Here it is... the Big K, Kindergarten!

You are my big 5 year old, ready to take on the new adventure of SCHOOL! I can't believe we're here. You are 5 1/2 years old. You always add in the "half" in your age. I hear you, Bud. It's important, you've earned that growth for sure!

I've been totally emotional all summer thinking about this transition, imagining you heading off with your huge backpack on your tiny body, ready to take on the world of Kindergarten.

And now that we're days away from it... I don't know what's making me so nervous or sad. You've never let me down before. All the other transitions we've gone through, you've been totally ready and willing and focused. You have been excited. In fact, you've shown me the way before, and I know you'll do it again now.

I'm going to trust you on this one. I'm going to take your lead. I'm going to watch out for the signs that you're worried or nervous, too, like when we walked into the Kindergarten Screening and you reached for my hand. I squeezed yours to let you know I was right there, that there was nothing to be afraid of, that this would be so great you'd be laughing about how fun it was.

You teach me to be brave. You always have. You show me how to put my game face on. Like the 143 times you've fallen and gotten right back up again, skinned knee and all, you laugh it off, pretend you're fine. I always tell you, "It's OK to cry, it's OK, pal, that looks like it hurt." But you are cool as a cucumber. You're fine. You show me how to get up when you fall, I didn't teach you that, you learned it on your own.

Along with a zillion other things like the names of every single truck out there (excavator, excuse me). You've taught yourself. You've led the way for Daddy and me. You've shown me how to be the courageous one, not look back, but only look forward.

I know you'll do the same now. I am grateful for you, being the first, the one who will teach us how this is done, Kindergarten. It's a big jump, but I'm going to leap right in behind you, just like you did this summer swimming at the lake or ocean.

You don't hesitate. You don't get caught up in worries or fears. You overcome them, quickly. You do what feels right in the moment. I love that about you. That's something I'm going to learn from with this transition.

I know you are ready for this big change. You've been excited for months about heading to Kindergarten. Every now and then you'll tell us you aren't going, out of spite or just having a rough day. But more times than not you're ready, you're willing and asking a zillion questions about what it will be like, your teacher's name, your friends you'll meet, etc.

You know this will be FUN with a capital F.

You know how much you're going to learn, that this is the gateway to the future. And that the future is bright and AWESOME. How you know this at the mere age of 5 (and a half), I'm not sure. Just maybe, Daddy and me, we maybe taught you that? 

So here's the thing, Pal, I want you to remember a few things as you head off into Kindergarten. 

In no particular order, here's what I want you to think about this year:
  1. Be yourself. Above all, I want you to be yourself in school. So many new people, friends, buddies, are going to enter your world now. You are going to at some point (probably way too soon for our own good) want to be just like them. You're going to want the same sweatshirt as they have. You'll want sneakers that they have. You'll want to be like others. That's all normal... but I want you to remember you're awesome the way you are. Be YOU. Above all else, just be yourself. If you like Batman shoes with lights on them when you step, GREAT, we're getting those. If you're the only kid in the room with a Ninja Turtles backpack or a tractor lunch box, then GREAT, that's the way I want you to be. Be yourself. 
  2. Be kind. It's so important to me that you act kind and respectful. We've talked about this for years. I've told you this daily the last few years before dropping you off to preschool. I want you to be the one to help other kids, to listen to the teacher first, to sit down when asked. I want you to be the one to walk up to a new kid and say hello, be his friend so he's not shy the first day. I want you to be the one that they call me up and say "Wow you won't believe what he did today that was so nice!" 
  3. Listen. There is going to be so much to learn in Kindergarten, you won't want to miss it! So put on your "listening ears," as we've called them for years. Listen to your teacher. Listen to your friends. Do what you're told. Take it all in, Bud.
  4. Remember you're awesome. Some kids are going to be mean. There will be boys who won't want to play with you and girls who won't want to give you a Valentine card. There will be teachers who shush you when you were only trying to ask a question. There will be kids who won't pass to you on the soccer field or throw you the ball for a chance on the basketball court. Kids will think you have ugly shoes or hair cuts or sneakers. This is all normal, unfortunately. I know you'll come sad some days. I know you'll be disappointed by how you're treated at times. I know also I won't be able to fix all of it. But I'm here to listen. I'm here, pal. And I'll be reminding you that you're awesome. Remember how funny you are, how smart you are, how you are COOL no matter what anyone else says. 
  5. School is cool. Repeat after me: School is cool. Please, please don't hate school. See it as an opportunity. Remember how fun it is with learning to use scissors and learning to read. I pray that you never hate school. I know most kids end up hating school at some point... but I'm going to try really hard to remind you that you're lucky to have an education every day. I know you're young, so perhaps at first you'll love it. But there will be days you're tired or where you don't get called on to be Line Leader and I know you may come home not wanting to return the following day. That's OK, we all have rough days. I just really hope you remember school is a great place to be. You're lucky, Pal, make sure you remember that. 

The biggest thing I want you to remember this year: 

Try your best. 

It's so important that whatever you're doing this year, whatever you're learning or trying out for the first time, you just do your best. Take a deep breath. Have patience. Don't get super frustrated. Ask for help. Do what works. But try your best. Don't give up, Bud. Never give up.

The days are going to be long, especially without napping like you're used to. You are going to be exhausted. You won't know many kids at the start. It'll get better, promise.

You can do it. I believe in you, Pal. Remember that always.

So, as we near your first day of school, I hope you are as excited as I am for you. Yes, I admit, I'm a sappy Mama on the insides... I'm going to miss driving you to preschool in the mornings. I'll wonder how you're doing. I'll hope you are having fun and learning lots and not missing us too much (OK maybe a little!).

But you're ready. I know that. And as we get closer to the big day, I swear I'll be ready, too.

You're off on a big journey now. It's going to be tons of fun. It's the start of something huge. It's the beginning of your future.

You will figure out who you are and what you want to be someday through school. I know we're only starting at the beginning with Kindergarten and cutting scissors and crayons and letter formation... but all grand adventures must start some place small... and this is YOUR grand adventure, Pal. You're on your way. 

I'm so proud of you. Jump in, eyes wide open, focused on the fun ahead. This is going to be a great year.

I love you to the moon, Bud. Let's do this. Kindergarten, here we come!

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