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Kindergarten: Getting to the Heart of My Phobia

The reminder was typed on white paper and taped to the door of Anders’ preschool. It wasn’t unusual to see a note there. In fact, almost weekly I find something greeting me in that space as we enter the building.

Bring cupcakes! Don’t forget Thursday is pajama day! Remember your shoe box for next week’s craft!

Many mental notes have been prompted and composed at those double doors in between adjusting school bags and hurrying children through them, but this reminder was different. Was it a reminder or a warning? It felt like the latter.

There in boldface type it read: “Don’t forget! Kindergarten sign up begins March 23.”

I devote hours each day attempting to put power into words, but I have yet to capture the type of punch those two sentences packed for me. I write a lot about how bittersweet it is to watch Anders grow. This year in particular has been jolting. There’s something about the age of five and seeing the last bit of baby plumpness melt from his cheeks seemingly over night. It is truly joy through tears.

Until I read that note I have always assigned my dread of Anders beginning kindergarten to the fact that it is a major milestone. It feels like a new level of independence for him that I’m still so unprepared for him to have, but there is another part of it for which I wasn’t aware I felt reluctance and in that moment it dawned on me.

This is the beginning of his education. It’s a simple truth, but when I connect it with the struggle I have teaching him to write his name in crayon on the margins of coloring book pages it’s one that feels daunting. Anders is a brilliant child, but he frustrates easy and I fear the responsibility of being the custodian of all the knowledge he’ll need to acquire to not just survive but thrive once he leaves home. I really believe that a child’s education and the work ethic required to pursue it is reinforced in equal parts by teachers and parents. In fact, the scale tips towards parents, in my opinion.

I can’t fail at this and the room for error is a blade’s edge.

Anyone else out there feeling the pressure as their child gets ready to embark on their school year journey?

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