On Monday we dropped our 5-year-old off at kindergarten. A few tears were shed. Not by him, of course but by his parents. It’s one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my formative parenting years – leaving my beloved son in the care of others. It’s not that I don’t trust his teachers. I do. But for the first few years of my son’s life nearly every need, whim, want, lesson, discipline and desire was met, taught and meted out by his parents. Handing over that power and responsibility to people we just met a few days ago is a bit challenging.
It doesn’t matter at which age it happens. When we walk away from our children and entrust them into the capable, loving hands and arms of another, it hurts. And the questions run through my head constantly while he’s at school:
Will my son make friends?
Is he wearing cool shoes?
Will he repeat the curse words or coarse language he’s heard me say?
Is he listening to his teacher?
Is he only eating the snacks out of his lunch and eschewing the fruit & cheese?
What happens if he can’t rip off the toilet paper to wipe his butt?
And those are just a small sampling. I realize that my son is no different than I or my wife or any other of the hundreds of thousands of children beginning school this year. But there is one important difference — he is my child and we’re rookies at these “First Day of School” emotion-fests.
That’s why I wrote these tips for my son’s teacher on the proper care and maintenance for handling my son:
1). He’s not fragile but he might appear so at times. Our oldest has been high-octane since he emerged into the world. He runs, he jumps, he climbs, he screams, he laughs, he is the self-proclaimed “fastest kid in the world.” But despite his fleet resemblance to Usain Bolt and his predilection for activity, if crashed into or injured, he will likely cry. And if he doesn’t cry, it will be because he has suppressed is so no one will see him.
2). Which leads to this — he has a high emotional intelligence. My son was watching “Monsters Inc.” a few months ago and started crying at the end when Mike says goodbye to Boo. My wife and I were surprised that he had such deep feelings and understanding of what was occurring on a purely emotional level.
3). There will be talking. Oh, there will be talking. My son loves people. And he loves to talk. Therefore, he loves to talk to people. And he talks about everything he know — dinosaurs, snakes, swimming, toys, Star Wars, Wild Kratts, ants, wildlife, me, my wife, etc. You will know us pretty well before the school year is out.
4). He is a gentle soul. There are a lot of rough and tumble kids out there. My son is not one of them. He will get angry or moody from time to time but his first inclination is not to solve his problems with violence. He wants to talk (See #3).
5). There is a deep imagination at work. The other day we watched a few minutes of “E.T.” Afterwards, he created his own extra terrestrial named “Blobby.” Within a few minutes he created an entire storyline — where Blobby came from, what he ate, who his parents were, what Blobby liked, how he moved, etc. He even drew a picture of Blobby (very rudimentary. An artist, he does not appear to be). Then, he wanted me to create an extra terrestrial of my own. Fun stuff.
6). Lastly, he is observant. After we met his teacher last week and toured his classroom he asked me, “Daddy, where are all the toys?” Unlike his preschool classroom, there weren’t any and he noticed right away.
Let this be the last thing you know: Like all of your students we love and adore our son. We know that he can be difficult at times — his not listening skills are Hall of Fame worthy. But by and large he is a joy — happy and outgoing, charming and filled with expression and joie de vive. We want him to enrich your life as he has ours.