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I Will Always Be Sitting in the Front Row

To My Rising Kindergartener,

This special day called Graduation means you have made it through preschool, and in just a couple of months, you’ll be a Kindergartener. It is a really big deal to us and we are now the ones feeling all the big feelings. As you head to a new school with new teachers and new friends, keep these lessons close to your heart.

Be kind. On the first day of school, find someone who is sitting alone. Look for who might be crying because drop-off in the morning is hard. See who is standing alone on the playground. Be their friend. Sit down next to them and ask them if they want to play with you. Stand up for people. If someone is being mean, don’t look in the other direction. Speak up.

Be different. Differences make us special. I am pretty sure there was an entire Daniel Tiger episode that taught this. You can be different, too. You don’t have to wear the same shoes, eat the same food, or enjoy the same show as everyone else. If someone is interested in something that you initially think is a little weird, be brave and ask them about it. Make sure that you take the time to learn about new ideas, things, and people with different lives than yours.

Be a helper. The world needs helpers, and it doesn’t matter that you are only five. Children can be helpers. You can make a difference. You matter. If someone falls down and gets hurt, go over and make sure that they are okay. If another child is sad, ask what would make them feel better. Tell the people around you that you care about them. Show them with small acts of kindness. Doing this is a much bigger deal than making it to the first-grade reading group ahead of schedule.

Be an adventurer. When someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, go ahead, be an “adventurer that wants to travel the world and save all the animals.” Right now, you have limitless expectations and aspirations. Your job is to explore and be curious. Ask questions. Build things and then take them apart, so you can see exactly how they were put together. Make messes. Go into the woods and find treasures. Get out the glue, tape, and scissors. Make up stories and act them out. Use your imagination. Have adventures, big and small. You don’t have to color the tiger orange, if you think it would be better in blue.

Be you. On a recent beach trip, I caught you gazing out at the ocean, standing away from all of your friends, who were busy playing. After several minutes, I went over to you, worried that you were upset. I asked what you were thinking about and you replied, “Just imagining all the ocean life that we can’t see from the surface. I can’t wait to grow up and explore ways to protect all those animals.” I was both humbled and inspired by you. You brought tears to my eyes. I love your soul. Always be true to yourself. But please, take your time growing up; this Mama’s heart needs more time.

Be resilient. You are going to learn to read and write. You will do math problems, learn about different parts of the world and even learn new languages. Some things may take a little longer to understand and other things will come easily. Keep doing the things that challenge you. You will learn all sorts of new skills. Keep trying, even when you want to quit. You will learn the most, in fact, from your failures.

I am so excited for you. I will likely cry on your last day of preschool (let’s be honest, the entire last week), but these tears simply mean that the school, teachers, staff, and years of growth have been immeasurably special. As a two-year-old, you walked in on your very first day wearing a diaper. These walls have been your safe place to push boundaries and to learn about kindness and sharing. You are now heading into Kindergarten with independence and confidence in the person you are. I am so proud of you. I will always be sitting in the front row, supporting you, in whatever you pursue.