Dear Kindergarten, You’re Taking My Baby Away

Hello there Kindergarten. So we meet again. I remember you quite well from a couple of years ago when you lured my older daughter into your lair of learning. Now, you’re back with all your fancy sight words and cutesy books. But, this time, you’re going for the jugular.

You’re about to take my baby girl.

Do you know the worst part? She’s actually excited about meeting you. Before you go around and brag to all your little ABC friends, I have some words for you.

I know you’re used to sucking up to all of your new recruits with the glories of snack time and gym class, but I’m not too happy about all the things that are going to change around here. This momma is one carrot stick away from some major water works. You see, baby girl and I have been together like peas and carrots from day one. Yeah, yeah I know, you’re little brother pre-k has had her for a few hours a day over the past two years. But, this is not the same. You’re taking her for almost the entire day. You’re going to get to have lunch with her. You’re going to get to see the little light bulb in her head go on when something she’s been trying so hard at finally clicks. You’re going to hear her little giggle all day long. I’ll just get your leftovers when she comes home and tells me all about how great her day was. Thanks a lot.

You know you’re taking on a big responsibility. Sure you have experience and some great references, but you need to really take this one under your wing. I know all the other mommas tell you this too. But, you should listen to me. I have friends…a lot of them…friends that carry bats. I think I’ve painted you a clear enough picture.

You see, although my baby girl is excited, I know she’s a little scared too. So am I. It’s a whole new world for her. It’s a world filled with new people, new ideas, new routines, new lessons…heck, even new crayons. Since I can’t be there by her side it’s your job to make sure she gets through it all okay. Got that? You need to guide her and let her know she is going to be just fine when she feels like she won’t be. You need to encourage her when she gets frustrated. You need to cheer her on for a job well done. You need to make sure she’s kind and doesn’t say any bad words. You need to make sure she knows her teddy will be waiting for her in the car afterschool just like she asked. Perhaps most importantly, you need to make sure she pees! And of course, she needs to wash her hands.

Kindergarten, are you up for the job?

You’re not just adding another player to your roster. You’re adding one of my all-stars. I know this is all part of the circle of life, blah blah blah, but I kind of liked the circle we’ve created over the years. I’m not ready to start another one just yet. But, I know the decision is not mine. You’re a pushy one Kindergarten with no wiggle room for giving me more time.

I wish I could make time stand still, but I know Kindergarten is just the beginning of letting go. It’s a baby step in what will be a lifetime of changes, challenges, accomplishments and even let downs at times.

So, Kindergarten, be gentle with my baby girl. Although she may act like a tough cookie, on the inside she’s a big softie.


One Misty-Eyed Mom

A Letter to My Daughter on the Last Day of Kindergarten

Dear Mariella,

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that I wrote a letter like this to you as you were starting Kindergarten. I was so excited for you as you started “big kid” school. I couldn’t wait for you to begin your little journey.

Now, here we are at the end of the school year. I am amazed at how much you have learned and how much you’ve grown. You can now write your name so much neater. It doesn’t look like a rainbow of letters searching for a home. You’ve mastered those pesky 2’s and 5’s. I can’t even remember what your old numbers used to look like. You can count to 100 without skipping a number. You were so proud this year once you made it to the “100” club. You made me proud too.

The reading. Oh, the reading. It has been wonderful to watch you discover words and sound them out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been frustrating too. Sometimes Mommy forgets just how hard it is to learn to read. I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t remember what it’s like not to know words. I know it gets you mad when a “y” sounds like an “e” at the end. You can’t stand the fact that it’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, you read the words. I absolutely love when you read to me and your sister. It makes my mommy heart do cartwheels.

You’ve also came out of your little shell during this Kindergarten year. Gone is the little girl who used to hug my leg like a stage-four clinger. Gone is the little girl I would have to force to go play with the other kids before the school bell rang. Now, you just run off, never looking back. You’ve become quite the social butterfly, spreading your beautiful wings. Although it makes me a little sad inside, I know this is the way it’s supposed to be.

You’ve learned what it is to win and what is to lose. You’ve learned that just because you don’t get an award doesn’t mean you haven’t done well or accomplished your goals. Sometimes, things just don’t go your way. Sometimes other people win. That’s a part of life. Be happy for them and be proud of yourself at the same time.

On a lighter note, you’ve learned that it’s okay to use the school bathroom. It’s nearly impossible not to during a six hour day. I hope you are washing your hands like you claim. But, if you’ve noticed, when you get home I make you scrub like a doctor preparing for surgery…just in case.

I’m excited to hang out and do things with you over the summer before first grade starts.  I hope you are too. Please stop growing up so fast, my mommy heart just can’t take it.






Kindergarten Is the New First Grade

So, we’re a few weeks into this Kindergarten thing and let me tell you, I’m a little surprised and overwhelmed by all of the things my five-year-old daughter is learning and is expected to learn by the end of the year. Gone are the days of coloring, play kitchens and dolls. There really is no time for fun. All of that has been replaced by sight words, writing and reading.

I believe by the end of the year, by daughter will need to recognize dozens of sight words, be able to count to over fifty, write her letters and numbers, and be able to do simple addition and subtraction. There’s probably more, but my head was spinning so much when they rattled off the list that I probably forgot a thing or two.

I know a lot of this has to do with the new common core standards that the schools are using. They are raising the bar so our kids can be smarter and more competitive when they apply for college and jobs. I truly do think this is wonderful, but I also think there needs to be a better balance especially when many kids are still only going for half a day. Actually, let me correct myself, two and half-hours a day. While many districts have transitioned to full days, other schools are still only half day with some kids going in the morning and others in the afternoon. Our district is one of those although they are paving the way for full-day Kindergarten in the near future.

Two and a-half hours is a short amount of time to cram in daily math, reading, writing lessons, as well as an occasional “special” (art, music, gym). Don’t forget snack time too! My daughter comes home with a folder full of work she has completed in class each day. When I ask her if she did all of that in one day, she says “yes”. I look at what I did while she was gone and I feel like a real slacker! I give the teachers and students a lot of credit to be able to do so much in such a short amount of time. Let me tell you, come mid-afternoon, my daughter is exhausted. It’s no wonder since her mind was in Kindergarten boot camp all morning!

With all that is expected of these growing minds, I cannot see how a child can succeed without help at home. Besides the daily homework sheets, we spend more time reading, pointing out site words, and practicing some troublesome letters and numbers. I am blessed to have the extra time to do all of this. Without this extra push at home, I cannot see how kids can fulfill all the requirements outlined in the common core. With that said, when all of our work is done, there is still plenty of time to play.

I think you still need to let kids be kids, especially five-year-olds. That means time to play. Playing teaches kids things like sharing and how to interact with other people. Those are just as important as math and reading. While I think it’s great that we are expecting more out of our kids, I think we have to be careful not to forget there is more to a child than the common core.




‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

‘Twas the night before Kindergarten and all through the house not a child was stirring not even a toy Mickey Mouse.

The book bags were hung by the door with care hoping that all of the supplies were packed neatly in there.

The children were snuggled all in their beds while dreams of ABC’s danced in their heads.

I was in the kitchen checking the snacks deciding which ones would make it in their lunch pack.

Now Gogurt!

Now Goldfish!

On fruit snack!

On pudding!

So many snacks, which ones to choose? I must pick the ones that won’t receive any “boos”.

To the top of the fridge to the bottom cupboard drawer, Gogurt and fruit snack you win the award.

Now that the snacks are packed, there’s not much to do. I have everything ready, even your non-light up shoes.

The sun will be up, the time is almost here, don’t laugh if mom sheds more than one tear.

The bell is ringing, don’t be late. I know you’re going to do better than great.

You’ll write your name, you’ll do your numbers, there’s a lot of work to do before you can return to slumber.

The big day is here, give a big shout! You’re about to see what Kindergarten is all about!







A Letter to My Daughter As She Starts Kindergarten

Dear Mariella,

I can’t believe you are starting Kindergarten in just one week. It may sound cliché (not that you know what that means) but it really feels like just yesterday that I held you in my arms for the first time.

Although you’ve been going to pre-school for two years, Kindergarten is different. At least that’s what I’m told. I haven’t been there in some thirty years. Kindergarten is the start of “big kid” school. There are so many things you need to know. I know I’m not going to remember to tell you everything.

You’re about to learn so many things that your little head may spin. But, knowing you, you’ll be able to keep it all in check. You’ll learn how to write your name neater. You’re going to learn more numbers and hopefully your teachers can help you better with those pesky “2’s” and “5’s” you struggle with so much. You’re also going to learn more of those site words we started so you can read to yourself like you told me you wanted to. You can even borrow my book light that you stole off the counter.

You’re going to meet so many new kids. Some you’ll like some you won’t. Some kids may not like you either and that’s okay. I know that’s hard for you to understand. Some kids may even give you a hard time for one reason or another. That’s not cool, but it may happen, so be ready for it in case it does. It’s okay to stick up for yourself, just don’t get called into the principal’s office please.

When you’re at school, if you see or hear something that’s scary or dangerous, please tell your teacher. There are a lot of crazy things out there that I don’t want you to ever find out about, although I know someday you will. Now that you’re in “big kid” school I’m always going to be worried about your safety.

Be your own person. I know I’ve told you this so many times before, but don’t do something just because someone else is. You have a good sense of what’s right and wrong, so trust that little voice inside you.

I know you don’t like to do it, but you’re probably going to have to use the bathroom at school. You may even have to poop. It happens. Don’t fight it. Just do it. Remember no one will be there to wipe your butt or remind you to wash your hands. So please remember how very important these two things are.

I know as you make new friends, you’re probably not going to want or need me around as much. I guess that’s okay. It’s part of all the growing up you’re going to be doing over the years. Just remember, mommy is always here and I’m going to want to still do stuff with you even when you don’t want me to. Deal with it.

Oh Mariella, I can’t wait to see and hear about all the new things you’re going to do. This is such an exciting time for you. You’re probably going to deal with it a lot better than I will, so you may have to help me out a bit.

Have fun, please be good and remember to wash your hands!






The First of Many Graduations

It may sound cliché, but time passes so quickly. That’s especially true once you start having kids. One day turns into one week, into one month, into one year which crashes into the next, creating a domino effect that has you shaking your head wondering where all the time has gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately because my daughter graduates from pre-school this week. I know to some people it may seem so insignificant considering all of the other graduations and milestones that are yet to come, but to me, it’s a big deal. It signifies the fact that she is really growing up and I really can’t believe it.

I can remember the day she was born more clearly than what I ate for dinner last night. I can re-tell her delivery story up to the detail of what was on the television in the room at the time. I can remember her jet black hair (which has turned twenty shades lighter since then) and trying to figure out who she looked like more.

I remember her first ride in the car and how I thought I would never be able to drive around with her because I would have to be staring at her constantly. Yeah, I got over that one! I remember how I felt leaving her for the first time when I had to go back to work and how much I cried. Fast forward a few years to her first day of pre-school and how she felt when she had to leave me and how much she cried. Now, she hardly stops to give me a quick hug and kiss before settling into the classroom. It’s funny how time changes so much.

I’ve just been thinking about what the beginning of “big girl” school really means…for both of us. I think it’s going to be harder for me, lol! We all know kids are pretty resilient. It’s us parents who need to grow a thicker skin. There’s so much more to worry about once kids get to “big girl” school.  Truly, I don’t think I’m ready for Kindergarten! I just want to bottle her up and keep her tiny forever. I know she has to grow-up. But, it sucks.

To make matters worse, her Kindergarten orientation is scheduled a few hours after her graduation. Talk about hittin’ a momma hard. I’m gonna be one Lifetime movie away from a total crying fest. I’m sure it’s nothing some adult beverages can’t fix!

Growing up is hard to do…especially for parents. You just want to stop the clock. But, you can’t.  You just have to hit the “play” button without accidentally tapping “fast forward”.