Raising a Kindergartner
By Rhonda Headley
Years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote an enormously popular book about how the lessons he learned in kindergarten influenced his life as an adult. I have spent a few years raising my girls just to reach kindergarten, and Iíve definitely accumulated some life lessons of my own. Some lessons are more light-hearted, such as learning kiddie pop-culture and embracing the same Dora episode for the 50th time. Some lessons have been for me specifically, like dealing with how my body changed after having kids, and learning, to my great dismay, I can sport both acne and grey hair simultaneously. Some lessons have been learned most uncomfortably in public, like when unsuspecting Target customers joined me in experiencing a melt-down when I ran one errand too many.
There are many lessons not designed for the weak of stomach while raising kids for kindergarten. For instance, when your four year old says sheís had enough spaghetti to eat, donít urge her to eat five more bites. Her limited appetite might just be related to the onset of the stomach flu and you will fully regret those last five bites at two in the morning. Or learning to ask if your daughter has gone to the potty recently before tickling her so much that she laughs herself into an accident. Iíve learned no matter how late preschoolers are up the night before, their little biological clocks beat out room-darkening shades every time. And I have learned itís never a good thing to hear the combined words of ďtree,Ē ďtie,Ē and ďjump ropeĒ from the back yard when youíre babysitting.
Iíve also learned to love the shock of cold little feet when they get in bed to snuggle with you in the morning. Iíve learned to love purple toe nail polish, to write notes on banana peels for packed lunches and that no one will complain if you serve ice cream for breakfast on the first day of summer vacation. Iíve learned how deeply you can feel emotions, from that fluttering feeling of pride when your daughter remembers her lines in the school play, to the heat of anger when the dog eats the adored gingerbread house without a gumdrop to spare. There have been lessons in pain and helplessness too, from the wince of stepping on misplaced Lego pieces to the heart-wrenching fear of watching your child suffer from migraines.
Two of the most profound lessons Iíve learned revolve around the gifts of hope and forgiveness. No matter how many times I need to learn a lesson, I have hope for myself and for my children that tomorrow will be better. And Iím often blown away by the forgiveness they extend to me, so we can start fresh again after I blow it. The lessons Mr. Fulghum learned in kindergarten are note-worthy (Iím all for taking naps!), but I would have been keen on listening to the lessons his mom learned in getting him there.