Monday, August 18, 2008

To Finn, on his first day of kindergarten

About two hours ago, I abandoned you in your kindergarten classroom.

I walked you to your room and eased you into the classroom filled to fire hazard with five-year-olds, their parents, and more cameras--video, digital, cell phone--than an AARP tour group on a whale watching cruise.

Then I blew you a kiss, swallowed yours, and booked it out the door so you wouldn't see my inevitable and long-postponed (and planned) breakdown.

Sure, I say "abandoned." Based on your response, hoppy exuberance, and all caps glee--MY OWN LOCKER! and MY KIDS! and PLAY DOH!--I think you might choose a verb like "set free" or "liberated" or "finally unshackled from the oppressive, stifling bonds of a mother hell bent on dissing my vibe."

I've asked you--multiple times a day, unfortunately--if you were excited about kindergarten. And each time I did, you'd open your arms wide, so wide they bent around your back, and say, "Mama, I'm so excited." This surpasses any overextended voguing you've done for a Nana visit (sorry Nana), a playdate with one of your kids, or the promise of a Transformer. This, to date, is the most excited you've been about anything.

I'm so glad you don't take after me.

I always loved school--so much that I signed up for three extra years that I didn't have to--but each first day would put me into such a nauseous tizzy in my anxiety over unopenable lockers, labyrinth hallways, teeming kids and later adults, and germy play doh. Even when I taught school, I'd have to take shots of Pepto just to calm my nerves. First days were never my forte.

But kindergarten looks like it's your element. You have such high hopes for this year--that you'll find like-minded Lego lovers, that you'll do scientific experiments that test the bounds of electromagnetism, and that you'll finally, finally, finally learn to fly.

I can guarantee you'll find your Lego crew--and you'll make new friends who share your interests and open your eyes to new wonders. You'll also learn of the dangers of cooties--and, if you're lucky--one of those new friends my inoculate against further infection by that insidious disease. (Or you can self-mediate: Step one: circle. Step two: another circle. Then three dots. That is the cootie shot.) You'll learn how to follow the crowd and stand up for yourself. You'll witness snark, smarm, and generosity of spirit. You may even find your best forever friend, or your first love, among the kids who share this first day with you. And you've just met the first teacher whose influence and passion you'll remember for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure you won't be doing any Faraday experiments. And sometimes, I'll also guarantee, you'll find kindergarten a bit slow. You already know how to do so much--you can read a little, you make friends easily, you can build elaborate aerodynamic objects d'art with the aforementioned Legos, K'Nex, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, you crack jokes at a whim. But don't let your talents keep you from accepting what others have to offer. You came into this classroom with confidence, imagination, and wit. Share it. And embrace the talents of others who are different from you--who can tie their shoelaces, who can make savory mud pies, who carry their magic in their hearts instead of in their hands. Discover them, too.

And as for that last bit about going airborne? I think I may have set you up, kid. There's been a lot of Harry Potter, Peter Pan, and Willa Wonka talk in the Anderson household. I hate to disappoint, but you won't be getting a Firebolt this year. Or next. Your teacher won't be distributing pixie dust or popping bottles of fizzy lifting drink. But there's a world out there, Finn, that's just waiting for you, a world of magic and wonder whose doors and windows and chimneys will open to you if you just believe in it.

And I will tell you this--although you may not literally soar through the air on a magic carpet anytime soon, this year, you will learn how to fly.


ricky said...

that was really nice.

Piper said...

Oh my little sister, you have crossed the threshold of little boy to school boy. I know you fear that you've lost something, but I know you will find out how much you have gained. Schooldom brings a whole new level to your relationship. I know you will cherish every story, every paper and make it all a strong happy memory. Just take my advice to get the conversation going, remember to ask about lunch and recess to get the 'I dunno' answer of what did you do at school today . . Gosh I hope that still works for college freshman.

spamchang said...

awwwwww :)