Things that Dangle…

What I Learned About Kindergarten

Posted in Business News By Danlie

So the dreaded day came … and went, and guess what? It wasn’t as awful as I anticipated. My first-born went to kindergarten. She loved it, and I survived the first day (and even the first week). I am only a first-time-mom-of-a-kindergartener-who-has-only-experienced-and-survived-the-first-week, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.

In a world full of educational choices—public, private, religious, charter, Montessori, magnet, homeschooling—everyone has their opinion about what is best, not only for them but for you, too! From about the time you bring your first child home from the hospital, other moms start asking, Do you know where she’ll go to school? You are going to home school, right? Did you get her on the waiting list for such-and-such private school? I was totally a live-in-the moment kind of first-time mom who wanted to never think about my baby going to kindergarten. Until it was upon us. Then public school seemed like the best option for us. And let me be honest … I have been pleasantly impressed! Our neighborhood school is a wonderful place that truly cares about the wellbeing of children. MA’s kindergarten teacher is absolutely the perfect fit for her. Although no institution is perfect, I can 100% say that this is exactly where my child is supposed to be at this point in time. I am glad to be partnering with them for her kindergarten education.

Even though our entire family lives far, far away, what a joy it was to share in this experience through phone calls, emails, texting, and Facebook. MA talked to a dozen family members the night before her first day and once she got home from her first day. She jabbered away to grandmas, grandpa, aunts, and uncles about her teacher, her desk, her room, her cubbie, her new backpack, and even her new first-day outfit with matching new shoes! Personally, I was encouraged throughout the entire day with friends and neighbors checking on me, making sure this mama bear was surviving. What an absolute honor and blessing to experience not only our extended family but the family of God surrounding us with love during this special time.

The second and third and fourth and yes, even the fifth day were just as hard dropping MA off at school than the very first day. Letting go is NOT easy. I don’t wanna let her go. I want to cuddle with her forever. But that is not God’s plan and purpose for her life or mine. I have to claim that “He who began a good work in [her] will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6, NIV). I have to believe that God has plans for “hope and a future” for her (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). It’s definitely not easy—and I’m told by other moms that it doesn’t get any easier, even when dropping them off at (gasp!) college. But I can trust God and trust her to His care, knowing that He is faithful.

I kind of (somewhat naively) thought that the first five years would be the hardest in raising children. I know … go ahead and giggle. Alright, laugh out loud, if you must. The newborn years are so difficult and such a blur with surviving on no sleep, crying babies, and wondering what you do with this new little person you are responsible for. Then you hit the terrible twos (and threes) and it seems like you spend all your days saying “no, no … NO!” But I was hugely mistaken thinking I could come off my knees for even a second as my children dived into the elementary years. My prayer life just multiplied by the millions.

I started reading the book, “The Power of a Praying Parent,” by Stormie Omartian again this week. I’ve read it through once, but it is one that you read over and over. There is so much helpful advice and encouragement for parents in this book. I love the first few pages of chapter one, “Becoming a Praying Parent”:

” It’s the best of jobs. It’s the most difficult of jobs. It can bring you the greatest joy. It can cause the greatest pain. There is nothing as fulfilling and exhilarating. There’s nothing so depleting and exhausting. No area of your life can make you feel more like a success when everything is going well. No area of your life can make you feel more like a failure when things go wrong. Parenting! … At every stage of their lives our children need and will greatly benefit from our prayers. The key is not trying to do it all by ourselves all at once, but rather turning to the expert parent of all time—our Father God—for help. …We must cover every detail of our child’s life in prayer. There is great power in doing that, far beyond what most people imagine. In fact, don’t ever underestimate the power of a praying parent.”

The worst part about sending my child to kindergarten is that I sincerely miss her. I enjoy being around her, and life seems a little empty without her during the day (although, believe me, #2 child is enjoying taking center stage). MA gets home at 3:30 and goes to bed about 7:30. So I get four hours a day with her. As a family, we get less, since “family” time starts when Daddy gets home. In those four hours, we have to squeeze in dinner, bath, bedtime routines, soccer practice on Mondays, church on Wednesdays, and gymnastics on Thursdays. Suddenly, an appreciation has begun for the limited time our family gets to actually be a family. I may let calls go to voice mail; I may let the laundry sit in the baskets until morning; I may let the shower keep growing that funky color of mildew. In the entire scheme of things, none of those matter. But my family most certainly does!

Since our family time is limited at night, I now treasured the ride to and from school with MA, because I have her ALL to myself. In the mornings, she is excited about the upcoming day. I get to pour into her encouragement and blessings for her day. When I pick her up, she is chatty about all the thrills she experienced. I get a front row seat to hear about who she saw that day (usually her “boyfriend” in another class), how well she obeyed and listened (“Mommy, I didn’t move my clip today to yellow!”), how yummy her lunch was (thankfully for this kitchen-challenged mommy, she loves PB&J), the craft she did, who she sat by, what letter they worked on, what song they sang, what book they read, when she went potty, what she had for a snack, what Madison said to Joel that was super funny, how she had trouble getting her pencil box open, how someone else has the same lunch box … and on and on and on. It makes me want to circle the block just to keep listening to her happy chatter! I truly treasure this time, knowing foundations are (hopefully) being laid for open, honest, and loving conversation to come in future days (say, those teenage years).

I believe I have learned more about sending my child to kindergarten than my actual kindergartener has learned! What a blessing and joy this week has been, and I look forward to many, many more.

Share with us … what lessons have you learned this week?

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