I wrote this last year as Luke began kindergarten. At that time he was entering a small school that contained only the town’s few kindergarten classes. It still felt big. But now? Now he’s in a school with hundreds of kids, many as old as 10 and 11. I realize that in the grand scheme of things 10 and 11 year olds are still small children. But compared to my wee precious snowflake? They are giant criminals waiting to corrupt. Don’t bother telling me otherwise. I’ve seen them with their trendy haircuts and pop music fashions. In related news: I am now a crotchety old man, so get off my lawn!
Anyway, this felt apropos to share once again.
What I Wish He Knew
Luke is about to start kindergarten. I’m already oscillating between ecstatic excitement and pathetic sobs. OK, so I haven’t actually sobbed yet, but I’m fairly sure I’ll be ugly-crying as the school bus drives away on that first day.
But this post isn’t about that. It’s about all the things Luke is about to face. I can see his school career stretched out before him and it’s a virtual minefield of social and emotional traps and pitfalls. I know there’s no way for me to protect him from it. I know he can’t learn through my mistakes. I know he has to navigate this sometimes treacherous journey on his own. But if I could, I’d want him to know this:
- Befriend the nerds, the geeks, the weirdos. When everyone grows up, these are the people great husbands, wives, and best friends are made of.
- Don’t be scared of the bullies. Mean people are everywhere and they feed off fear. Be the kid who stands up. Be the kid who protects the little guy.
- Don’t exchange what you know in your heart for what you think others will find cool.
- Know who your real friends are.
- Peer pressure is stupid, and anyone applying it to you is not worth your worry.
- Whatever it is that is breaking your heart today, I promise that it’s not that important. Let it go and move on.
- Your life is so long ahead of you, all of this daily drama is small in the big picture.
- Don’t let yourself be labelled or pigeon-holed. People will try. You can be as many different things as you want to be, and you can always change.
- It’s OK to be different.
- It’s OK to be popular. It’s OK not to be.
- It’s OK to be into sports or theater or music or math.
- It’s OK to work hard and do well.
- It’s OK to struggle.
- It’s OK to be embarrassed once in a while.
- It’s OK to have friends in different cliques.
- It’s OK to have a lot of friends. It’s OK to have a few.
- It’s OK to do and be whatever it is you want.
I can’t put all of this perspective into the head of a boy who has no perspective yet. I can’t wrap him up and shield him from all the stress, angst, and worry that he will need to suffer in order to gain this perspective for himself. All I can do is sit by and watch it happen, and be here to catch him when he falls.