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My daughter at kindergarten

My daughter at kindergarten

Today, I’m going to brag.  That’s right.  I’m going to tell you all the ways that my kid is smarter than your kid.

Gasp.  “Oh, no, you aren’t.”

Oh, yes, I am.

As we were brushing our teeth this morning, my daughter said “Mommy, the kids in room 18 need extra help because they aren’t as smart as us.”

And then, I spent the morning thinking about what the word “smart” means.  I even looked it up in the dictionary, which told me that smart is “having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability”.

And thinking about that definition left me wanting to shout about how smart my kid is.

By the age of two..

My kid understood two languages.

My kid spoke one language more fluently than I did, and was quickly learning the second.

My kid had an uncanny ability to recognize the face of someone we had only met once before (while I, embarrassingly, faltered).

My kid understood, and practiced, empathy at a level that I have rarely seen in other children or adults.

My kid had an ability to make animals at ease in a way that I, as a college-educated animal biologist, had never seen.

My kid understood the danger of fire, and tried to blow out every flame and hot object in every room we entered.

My kid knew how to share, and saw its joy.

My kid readily engaged with a new teachers for over a half-hour without my intervention.

My kid could use actual words to ask for almost everything needed throughout the day, from shoes in the morning to a book before bedtime.

My kid easily adapted to the ways of life in three different countries.

My kid knew how to operate a tricycle, go on a bike ride, build a sandcastle, jump on a trampoline, and safely ride in a kayak.

My kid had the ability to make even the grumpiest of plane passengers, shoppers, workers, and everyone else we met smile their biggest smile.

And perhaps most importantly, My kid easily functioned in, and welcomed, a world full of people who were nothing like him.

The kid that I’m writing about wouldn’t have been the one in the photo above.  He wouldn’t have been in the advanced class with his sister, or the one who rode a bike or tackled the monkey bars earlier than all the others.

My kid may have been the kid in room 18, and my kid would have been smart.

Returning back to the morning of brushing teeth.  We sacrificed being on time for school to have a conversation about what “smart” really means.  We explained that being “smart” had little to do with just learning to read, or do multiplication, sooner than others.  My fingers were crossed, in hopes that my daughter can unlearn what she learned in kindergarten. In hopes that I can make my daughter a little smarter, without her brother here to teach her this lesson with such ease.

My proud kid

My proud (and smart) kid

On Tuesday, I dropped my daughter off for the first day of Kindergarten.  As she sat with a big grin on her chosen blue square of the rainbow rug, I walked out the door, and I cried.

But I didn’t cry for her.

I love my daughter with all of my heart, and wish that I could spend every minute of every day with her.  If I had to pick my dearest friend, it would be her.  But I am not just her friend, I am her mother.  And she is ready.  Ready to take on the giant world of Kindergarten.  Ready to make new friends, and meet new challenges.  Ready to discover who she is, outside of my protective guidance.

When I walked out of my daughter’s Kindergarten door, I cried for my son.

My son, who at that very moment, I should have been dropping off at preschool.  My son, who was taken from my arms, after many reassurances that he’d be okay.  My son, who reached out for me in his last moments of life, and who I couldn’t reach out to in return.  My son, who wasn’t ready.

My son, whose first day of Kindergarten I had already imagined, but will never be able to feel.

I received much sympathy on that first day of Kindergarten.  “It’s tough to let them go”.. “It’s like we are feeding them to the wolves”.. “If only we could spy on them all day, to make sure they are okay”..  I wanted to scream and shout, “You have no idea!” but I didn’t.  I remained quiet and jittery, almost speechless, as they assumed my blurry eyes were for my daughter.

Because in their attempt at kindness and comradery, I saw myself.   I saw who I was last year.  The mom who would fret over six hours apart from either of my children.  The mom who had no idea.

And then, there was the one friend who stopped, and paid attention.  The friend who put her own fretting about her own son aside, and listened.  Who entered my world, as best she could, and understood that this day was about so much more than the first day of kindergarten.  Through her selfless act for me, I was able to see that in some ways, I am fortunate.  Fortunate that I am a mother who gets to experience kindergarten; fortunate that I have not lost both of my children; fortunate that I got to know the joy that is Rowan.  Our days are still pain mixed with moments of happiness, but happy moments are still there to be found in the smile of our daughter as she sits on a blue square.

Through a friend’s patience and kindness, I formed my response.   The words that would get me through the rest of the day.  The words that I hope convey my understanding that this day is tough for you, but I only wish that I could feel the way you do, and that there are others who wish they could feel the way I do.  The words that are not spoken in anger, but that I hope help give some understanding of a different perspective:

“I’m just glad that she’ll be home for dinner.”



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