My daughter completed her first year of kindergarten today. As someone who never went to kindergarten, I harbor some pride for this accomplishment. She won’t understand the gravity of this statement for many years, but I looked at her today as I picked her up and thought, “She’ll never be a kindergartener again.” It reminds me of the first day of school during my own senior year of high school when I stepped on the bus saying to my classmates only too happy to get the hell out of there, “This is our last year of public school. In nine months, we’re done!” Some scoffed at my perceptive abilities at the time, so forgive me if I pat myself on the back.
Cecelia seems pretty happy that she’s done with all that, but I have no doubt that in years to come, she’ll remember this past year wistfully. Life was good. Yes, she learned quite a bit, but the year was mostly about playing with her friends, new and old. I get a lot of pleasure seeing her become more of a social animal, and seeing how she interacts with her friends, especially with the little girl of the same age that lives right next door to us. How lucky is that?
I try very hard to follow the philosophy of the Free-Range Kids movement started by Lenore Skenazy. I of course worry about my daughter all the time, but I don’t freak out when she leaves my sight. I appreciate the fact that we live in a community that looks out for our kids, and if Cecelia walks a little too far up the sidewalk, she’ll have a greater likelihood of suffering a lightning strike on a sunny day than an abduction by some pervy stranger.
I want my daughter to face life with as little fear as possible, but at the same time I want her to develop a healthy awareness of the world around her. I want to prepare her for what looks like a most uncertain future, but try explaining to a six-year-old the importance of learning in order to stave off worries about money as an adult.
She won’t savor the moment right now, especially as she sits on the couch watching “Fairly Odd Parents,” but I will. My kid has an outsized personality and is best described as “willful.” If Louise and I can properly channel all that, she’ll be a force to reckon with. If not, well… I’d rather not think about it.