Friday, April 26, 2013

On Starting Kindergarten

On Tuesday, I took the triplets to their kindergarten screening.

I'm still not really sure what this "screening" was. I know they asked them some basic questions and the teachers told me that they all seem ready for kindergarten (which is good for them because I was planning on sending them regardless of the results).

I spent the time I was waiting hyperventilating about the fact that they are starting kindergarten next year. I mean, it's not like it snuck up on me ... except it kind of did. And it's not like they aren't ready to go, it's just that I can't believe it is already so close. Just a few short months and they're off.

I watched a class of 4th graders walking through the halls to lunch and they just looked so OLD. No way my kids are gonna look like that in four or five years, right? Except they will. I watched them laughing and talking in their neon skinny jeans and Chuck Taylors and just could not picture my kids being that grown up.

I think what scares me about sending my kids to school is the impending independence that will surely arise. Of course I want my kids to grow in their independence, but the result (or so we're taught to think) is that they will also grow apart from us, their parents - the ones who care about them the most.

Me? I want both. I want kids that grow in confidence and maturity while also looking to me for their values and identity. I want each of my children to learn to socialize and be a good friend and steward while also using us, their parents, as sources of information and guidance. Too often in this day and age kids are replacing parents with peers as their sources of direction. They care more about what their friends think than what their parents think, something I will vow to work against in our house. While there is definitely a place and need for healthy friendships, peers should not replace parents as the moral compass in a child's life.

This is one reason I think bullying is so prominent today. Kids put so much value into what their peers think that the soft, encouraging words of a parent do nothing to soften the blow. When the main support group that you put value in fails you, of course you are going to feel defeated and devastated. That's why the parents should be at the center of the child's life compass instead of the child's peers. If we work to keep our relationships with our children primary and sacred, I'm convinced that they will grow up feeling safe and loved, regardless of any fall outs or problems they confront with their peers. Bottom line, I never want my kids' friends to know more about my kids' lives than I do. I love them too much and care too much about their futures to let that happen.

So that's how a little trip to kindergarten assessment turned into an epiphany about what my parental goals will be over the elementary school years. I hope I can stick to my plan. I know they will test me (Lord, do I know they will test me!), but I'm pretty stubborn myself when it comes to things I care about. Lucky for them, I think they're all pretty special and there's no way I'm letting them get away from me that easily.

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