Stuff I Want my Daughter to Know Before She Starts School

photoMy Dear little Webby (our family nickname for Lev), How are you starting kindergarten already? No, seriously. I know you are SO READY and can't wait, but this is a joke right? Because you're still a baby. You still mispronounce pistachio and get scared to go into the basement playroom by yourself if the lights are turned off. You're my only girl, my mini me. You still like watching Sesame Street and need help putting straws in juice boxes.

I thought it would be easier sending you off to Kindergarten, after having sent Finn first, but it's not. I really loved the special "chicas only" time we got to spend together with Finn at school, having you tag along with me to things that the boys wouldn't have wanted to do. You are the best co-shopper at the grocery store, and you have taken your role as big sister (both to Jockey and the doggies) very seriously. Being the middle child is hard, and I know you're often stuck watching Finn play his sports or waiting for a baby to get up from a nap.

Before you start school, one thing I really want to tell you is that kids can be cruel. They will make fun of your name, your hair, your body, your clothes, your choice of backpack or lunchbox or even just the way you laugh. They will tease you and hurt your feelings. Sometimes the people that make fun of you, the ones that can hurt you the most, are people you thought were your friends. Please, please don't let this change you. Those kids, they have their own stuff going on, stuff you won't understand, stuff they don't understand. Feel compassion for them, but don't pay them any other attention.

I know you might WANT to tell them to shut up (don't say shut up that's a bad word), and you might want to call them names back, but just don't. Trust me. It might not feel better right away, but in the long run you will feel good about yourself for not saying anything mean. Focus on the kids that are nice to you, play with the ones who are kind. Remember that no matter what some mean kid says to you, you have our home to come back to. You have us to come home to, to lift you back up, to help you back onto your feet, to remind you that you are loved. It might be scary to have to go out into the big bad world, but we are always here.

The other thing I want to tell you is that you are smart. You are capable. You are strong. You are kind. If you get pushed down, stand up. If you don't get it the first time, try again. Raise your hand. Speak your mind. Don't be embarrassed if you get the answer wrong, everybody gets answers wrong. Treat your new friends the way you want them to treat you. Don't exclude anyone, it hurts their feelings. If your friends are being mean to someone, tell them to stop. Stick up for the little guy. Stick up for yourself. And if your big brother doesn't wave to you in the hallways, you let me know, and we'll remedy that situation.

I wish I had more time to stop and look around this summer. It makes me sad that the busiest time in my work life is happening at the time when you guys seem to be growing the fastest. What was once all chubby arms and legs and baby faces are now skinny, smiles with gaps where the baby teeth are now gone. But I am holding on to the moments that I can. Running back home from work last night in time to roast marshmallows with you. Watching you swim in the deep end for the first time at McGregor. Watching you dance on the lawn at American Girl Night at SPAC.

I'm happy that you finally get to go on the bus with your big brother. But I'm sad that our time at home together during the days is over. It was a tough start for us, you and me. But I feel like that struggle made our relationship even deeper for me, I can only hope it did for you too. I had to come around to parenting a different way with you, and it made me a better parent, I think. I hope. I hope with that fervor that all parents hope with. Mostly though, the time I got to spend with you, that time between you being born and me sending you to school full time, it was incredible. And so heartbreakingly short.

It's only short on this side though. There were days as a full time stay at home mom that seemed like marathons between breakfast and putting you guys to bed. Where a sea of laundry and playdates and vacuuming and grocery shopping/doctors appointments/soothing teething babies/diapers/sippy cups/Elmo/fingerpainting/more laundrymorediapersmoresippycupspleaseeatyourdinner stretched out in front of me like one big insurmountable gulf. Where I would FINALLY put you down for bed, exhausted, only to be back up with you a few hours later, soothing a nightmare, finding a missing stuffed animal...

On this side of your stay at home childhood, I'm feeling it pretty hard, and I'm going to miss having my little girl with me all day. I wish we had more lunches together, more manicure parties, more ballet classes, more time. No matter how many things we do together though it goes by too fast. I'm glad I get to be along for the ride though, even if the speed frightens me.

Just do me a favor though. Let's just agree on no dating till high school. NO DATING. I can't handle it. I just can't. Kindergarten is enough for me at this point.

Love, Mommy xoxo