Friday, October 4, 2013

What I’ve Learned in Kindergarten

Charlie and I stayed up too late last night watching DVR’d shows and enjoying each other’s company and a second bottle of wine. 

This morning I didn’t even try to get up at my usual 5 a.m. I set my alarm for 6. Then I turned it off and climbed back in bed. But when I glanced at the clock at 6:50 I heard this phrase in my head:

“It’s not for you. It’s for Hollie. Get her off to a good start this morning.”

A month ago, on the first day of kindergarten, I walked past the lady with box of Kleenex and held Hollie’s hand all the way to her classroom. When it was time to leave I knelt beside her said, “Kindergarten isn’t for grown-ups,” and kissed her goodbye.

The second day went the same. Tearless and fearless, we tackled this new chapter in our journey together with bravery and optimism.

On the third day I asked if she wanted to try big-kid drop-off. I would not walk her in; she could just get out of the car and find her way.

“I think I need a map,” she said.

So I drew a picture of Brando (our car) and a little stick figure Hollie and drew a line from the drop-off site to her classroom. She studied the map all the way to school and when the time came, she said, “I got this.”

The door opened, she leapt out, told the teacher on the sidewalk “I have a map!” Then she turned back to the car, waved and said, “Bye, mom!” and took off running toward the school.

That's when I cried.

How brave! How happy! How smart my little girl is. I pulled Brando around the circle and got in line to exit the school lot. The tears flew from my face as if animated. They blinded me all the way home.

I hadn’t expected to feel so overwhelmed with both pride and sadness. What a joyful, blessed thing to feel so much for another person.

Kindergarten has changed us both. 

Hollie has always been an independent soul, one who likes her space and freedom about as much as I like mine. But since school started she’s realizing just how precious that space and freedom are. She protects them, fiercely.

When she gets home in the afternoon she doesn’t want to play with anyone. She needs some time with her toys, in her room, doing what she wants to do. She’s also convinced she can do anything on her own. Before I would suggest she try to get dressed herself, get her own water, or brush her own teeth.

“If you need help, call me,” I would say. This approach had mixed results.

Now, she doesn’t ask for help unless things go wrong. Now, she tries everything herself first. And when she succeeds, she doesn’t bother to brag. She knows she’s expected to be independent and self-sufficient.

Yay, kindergarten!

I’ve changed, too. Before, dependability was my weakest attribute. I could not be counted on to remember anything, complete anything, or show up on time for anything. In the first five weeks I’ve gotten Hollie’s library books returned on time, her homework done every day, every paper signed, every a.m. carpool and every afternoon pick up.

Last week we had snack duty and she took her snack contribution on Monday. Not Tuesday, not Wednesday, not “my mom can’t be counted on for anything” day. Monday.

On Friday, I remembered the $4 for the special performance and the commitment form that needed to be signed and returned. This week I sent the check for the book fair books she wanted.

These things might seem like the basic, it’s-what-moms-do things. Other moms do them naturally and treat women like me with disbelief or disdain. 

I suck at them. 

Yesterday I left my thumb drive in the classroom I share with several dozen other adjuncts and had to return to campus and interrupt someone's class to retrieve it. I edited pages for a friend and showed up to our lunch date without them. I told my Wordsmith Studio friends I'd write a Creative Prompt for yesterday's website. Um. No. I completely forgot.

I didn't grade my students' papers. I showed up a week early for a coffee date. I sent four follow-up emails to possible new clients and got not a single response. Not one. I went to two networking events and came out without a single lead. Not one.

I have failed in just about every way possible this week. And yet, for Hollie, I've been right on target. We even snuggled up to watch The Little Mermaid on Wednesday. She told me she was glad my stinky customers didn't need me so she could have me for a while.

She’s a great kid.

She’s happy. She’s always been happy. She’s smart and funny and kind and patient. She has to be patient. Her mommy asks her to wait a lot. 
I’m becoming a better mom. Kindergarten helps. I do a better job of giving myself time to show up places. I’m usually early these days. I’m getting better at keeping track of things (her things). 

Mostly because if I don’t, I’ll be letting her down and that’s something I’d like to put off for as long as possible.

When have you changed so you wouldn't disappoint someone important to you?


  1. What a sweet little girl! And it sounds like you're doing a great job, Kasie. Who knew that you'd both be changing during this time? (As a side note: I personally still walk my kids to school.)

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'm always glad to see you on Clemson Road. And I promise I'd be walking her if she'd let me. I wonder where she gets that independence? (;-)

  2. Love this, Kasie. This is a touching portrait both of your daughter and yourself. It takes a lot to be brave enough to show your humanness. Well done.

    1. Thanks so much. I hung on to this post for a while. Had to rack up more "did good"'s ;-)

  3. Kasie, this post made me cry. How I wish I had your insight when my children were growing up. I would have done a much better job at parenting. What I know now that I didn't comprehend then is that there are no do-overs. You get one shot at being a good parent. All you have to do is do your best and you will be awesome. I don't believe you are going to have many "wish I hads" on the other side of fifty. That's good, because they hurt. So proud to know you.

    1. Thanks, Biv! I continue to believe that Hollie and I are both so blessed for the influences we have in our lives. Thanks for being a great one!

  4. You are an amazing mom, wife, daughter, sister, and granddaughter! You and Charlie are raising an incredibly sensitive and beautiful little girl. You are doing the right stuff; it is reflected every single day in Hollie and her personality. When she says, "let's have an adventure, Ma-Ma!" it's because you have instilled a sense of adventure in her. Hollie is confident because of you! I am so proud of you, my darling Kasie!

    1. Thanks, mom! I know that every day is a new chance to do a better job. You're the one that taught me to make the most of each and every opportunity.


Love Builds Confidence

Going into the archives for some classic blogs to get this blog resurrected. It's no longer The 41st Year and Life on Clemson Road is, ...