I knew it was someplace in the closet. Which child’s closet? I wasn’t exactly sure. I finally found it on the very top shelf, hidden underneath Bennett’s overly stuffed baby book box and disregarded art projects. The art projects are large squares of painted papers with broad paint strokes in brightly colored primary shades. The lines zig-zag around the paper with no rhyme or reason. I do not dare throw this art away, as this masterpiece is surely his “favorite” piece. Instead the stack gets shoved to the top of his closet and out of sight, out of mind.
I stand on my tip toes and stretch in order to feel the top shelf. The papers disturbed rain down on me along with birthday and baby shower (It’s a Boy!) cards as I struggle to remove my prize.
It was covered in dust. Seemingly appropriate since it’s been many days since this big puzzle last saw the light of day. I pulled it out so he could practice. Just a little bit. We sang while we played. No pressure.
This afternoon is Kindergarten round-up. I will be honest in the fact that Bennett does not know most of his letters. They will ask him, of this I am sure. Which letter is this? What sound does it make? Can you cut along this line? Show me the circle. Find the square. Write your name. Can you wait your turn? Walk in a line? Separate from your mother? Sit without wiggling?
Childhood is not a race. There is no prize for growing up or for being the first child able to read. No extra credit, no awards, no guarantee that you will be special once you become an adult. And so with this thought, we didn’t push our Benny to learn unnecessarily before kindergarten. I do not care if he knows his letters yet. I do not care how many numbers he can recognize or label.
I do care, conversely, that Bennett has a heart for others. I care that he has the ability to show patience while waiting for his turn to share. I care that he is socially and emotionally ready to handle an entire day away from his home. I care that he can show respect for his teacher and his friends. I care that he can listen and follow directions the first time.
Will he learn his letters? Absolutely. Am I counting on the wonderful teachers at school to help make this happen? Of course I am. Just like they are counting on me to send a child who is ready to learn. They are counting on me to help support Bennett’s learning at home. Together we will read the books and practice the letters.The lines will zig-zag around the paper as he learns to write his name. He will be out of my sight, but not out of my mind. We will save his very best school work when he rushes home at the end of the day. The papers will go to the top of his closet, next to the masterpieces of his preschool years and the cards from his first birthday. Eventually his lines will straighten. There will be rhyme and reason to the art that he creates.
While I fully believe with 100% of my heart that childhood is not a race, unfortunately, the world does not agree. The starting line is just around the corner.
Ready, set, go.