I laid awake much of the night last night, thinking of your first day of kindergarten. In the vain of my most neurotic self, I worried whether I had done enough to prepare you for such a momentous day. I bought flashcards. We talked endlessly about meeting new friends and learning new things. And, yet, as I was reading you The Kissing Hand, as recommended by your teachers (and a gift from your grandma and grandpa!), you plugged your ears. You didn’t want to hear about taking mommy’s kiss with you to school. And I worried.
In the papers the school sent home, the teachers warned that kids will pick up on your attitude and behavior on the morning of the first day. If you’re excited, they’ll be excited. If you’re nervous, they’ll be nervous. And as I cried my eyes out in the front seat of the car as I dropped you off, I knew I had failed. You said, “Mommy, it’s going to be okay.” Our roles had reversed. I knew it was going to be hard to let me heart leave my body that day, but I knew I had to set it free for your sake.
I laid awake last night and thought about one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous. As Penny Lane said, “It’s all happening.” Mixed in with all my fear and self-doubt was a feeling of pure joy and unbridled excitement at your future. It’s like Chutes And Ladders. Life will give you so many ladders to climb but, inevitably, you’ll “chute” back as well. You’ll experience your first crush, the feeling of true friendship, and countless adventures. But you’ll also be beaten down, scared off, and even bullied. Pretty much everyone is bullied at one point or another. I only hope you take it in stride and turn the other cheek. The high road leads to so many more good things. You are my sensitive one who wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s why my heart aches when I look at you with our pets and all things in nature. Butterflies hover around you and all living things gravitate towards you because your soul is gentle. Don’t let anyone or anything take that away from you.
I also hope you’ll be the “hi-stander” I’ve written about and take it upon yourself to befriend those who need it most. Don’t be a bystander. If you see someone hurting, reach out your hand. If you see someone crying, offer them a tissue. If you see someone scared, put your arm around them. It’s almost selfish when you think about it, as doing these things will make you feel good. And I want you to feel good about yourself.
I tend to be a jack of all trades, master of nothing. Finn, I hope you master something. It’s not that being a jack of all trades is a bad thing, but I can only imagine the self-fulfillment that comes with mastering something. Find something you love. Pursue it. Practice it. Bask in it. Master it.
Our first day is under our belts, little guy. We did it! Of course, I screwed up a lot of things. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to wear open-toed shoes! I drove your sneakers to school. I showed you my anxiety despite my best efforts. I didn’t know where to enter the school and we wandered about. I put your lunchbox in your backpack and the water bottle came open, so water came pouring out of the bottom of your backpack. Finn, this is who I am. I am, quite frankly, what many call a “hot mess”. But I do my best, Bud. I do my best. And you are patient with me and that, in and of itself, is a learning experience. We made it, my sweets, and you even let me leave you with a kiss in the palm of your hand! As you walked away, I saw those tears in your eyes and I knew you not only had my kiss but you had my heart. And I was happy to walk away, knowing it was where it was needed most.