Dear (Kindergarten) Trent,
I’m typically pretty on top of getting things done, known for having birthday cards and gifts bought months ahead of time and being one of the first to have Christmas cards in the mail as soon as it can be considered (somewhat) appropriate. But when I got the information I needed to start the registration process online for you to start kindergarten, there was no fire under my rear to get it done.
After weeks of partially forgetting and partially thinking I never had the time at the present moment to deal with it, I finally moved it off the To Do list. But in the middle of all the mundane, blah blah blah questions, they had a box to answer the question: Please describe your child.
I’m pretty sure my memory tells me there was a limit to how long I could have gone on to describe you. While I expect they were looking for things like “Might have trouble seeing/hearing” or “Can’t be separated from Mom without bawling” or “Has a penchant for lighting fires”, I wrote an incredibly abbreviated version of things I wanted them to know and then ended it with short sentence to sum it up: No special needs. That last line was probably the only part that didn’t generate an eye roll.
There are so many adjectives I could use to describe you, and so much I want your teacher to know… yet I don’t think any of this is what the registration form was necessarily looking for. I want her to know that you’re so open and loving that it can catch a person off-guard. With the hundreds (thousands?) of kisses you’ve given me, it’s still sometimes a surprise to get a wet smooch as I’m distracted with getting you buckled in the car. I want her to know that you’re so sensitive to how other people are feeling, she should be aware that someone else’s bad day or misfortune might throw a wrench in your own day. I want her to know that you love doing things on your own that you know you can, but that things that seem difficult to you once you get started will sometimes prevent you from continuing to try. I want her to know that you love picking flowers (or weeds) for your mom, have no problem trodding through ankle-high cow manure, love wrestling with your dad, and don’t hesitate sharing kisses with dogs. I want her to know you have your future outlined already: work as train engineer, and then help your brother farm on your days off. I want her to know what it looks like to see you smile proudly when you’ve done well, and recognize the warning signs that you’re getting frustrated with a project or getting worried about someone else’s predicament. I want her to know that sometimes when you get upset, your eyes will start to tear up but you’ll gladly listen to words of encouragement and understanding, while you scrunch up your mouth and nod along, soaking up the words and keeping the tears from actually falling. I want her to know that often, you seem years beyond the 5 years and 11/12 months that you’ve been on this earth. I would describe you as an all-American boy, loving balls and bicycles and running around crazy, all with a heart of gold that gives you the ability to make those around you feel special.
I can’t say how it will feel to “send you off to Kindergarten” although it helps that you have so many false starts that it’s hard to label one day as The One Where He Left Me. It wasn’t quite tonight, when your daddy took you to drop of school supplies and check out your classroom. It isn’t quite Wednesday, when we’ll go together for a couple hours of orientation. It’s kind of maybe Friday, when you’ll meet the bus in the morning for the first time and go to school all day—with only half of the students. So it’s also kind of the following Monday, when you’ll take the bus to school and have a full day of school with all your peers. At some point, I might get weepy because it’s most certainly a big step to disappear to school all day. But it would be silly of me not to think of the exciting door that is really opening up in front of you: learning new things, going new places, meeting the people who will be your friends and the people who will help you grow and even the people who will make you wonder why they go through life making others feel bad. It’s all a part of childhood; a crazy journey towards who you really are that is hopefully full of more happy times than tough times. You are so ready to move forward and while I won’t be pushing you out the door, I’m excited to watch you make the jump.
Yes, I’m excited. I’m ready to watch you grow, volunteer for field trips, and let others realize how truly special of a kid you are. What I’m scared of is the influence that others might have on you. I’m scared of the common concerns like bullying, not loving school, or having a hard time fitting in. I’m scared you might learn how to make others feel bad instead of nurturing your knack for making people feel good. I’m scared you’ll find reasons to believe I’m holding you back from “all the fun things” instead of being your favorite one to smooch and cuddle. I’m scared you’ll test what it would be like to try to conform to how other kids act and the things they like, rather than stay strong to who you are regardless of the opinions of others. I’m scared you’ll decide to keep the tough stuff a secret instead of letting me be a rock for help and advice.
I pray you’ll love school and I pray that I’ll find ways to cope if you don’t. I pray you will be tough enough to ignore bullies and soft enough to be the one others go to for encouragement. I pray you will be safe. I pray you won’t think anything bad about taking a bus and I pray that I’ll get you to the durn stop on time. I pray you find a love for learning things, even the things that seem tough at first. I pray you eat at least some of your lunch. I pray you have the strong foundation from a family who loves you to grow stronger, even amidst people who might want to tear you down just to feel taller. I pray you never wonder whether or not you’re loved, even when you find yourself in a building bustling with people going every direction and you feel like a tiny, insignificant dot.
Yeah, the box asking me to describe you didn’t have nearly enough room. Because you, Trent Allen, are one in a million. You are kind. You are loving. You are smart and incredibly aware of how others are feeling. You are fun to be around and love helping others. I know you will kick ass in kindergarten because in everything you do, you make us proud. Congratulations, Kiddo, on another big step in life. I love you so much!