The Kindergarten Effect

A MONTH AGO, MY FIRST MOMENTOUS INEVITABILITY as a parent came to pass. Johanna’s arrival in Kindergarten was a triumph. How was there any doubt? It seems obvious now, though we sweated it plenty (a symptom of the over-protective culture that defines me, much as I resist). As the youngest in her class, I’d half expected Johanna to run away screaming, if not burst into flames. Instead she blew me a kiss and started running the place.

For the first time since Johanna came along, I’m seeing her experiences through the lens of my own. I remember Day 1: walking past the crossing guards, taking seats on the colored tape, napping on a towel, meeting a boy named Carnell in his Aquaman Underoos.

Jo invited some new classmates to her 5th birthday party. I had the uncanny feeling not only that I knew them—the silent girl who draws well, the redheaded wild child—but that I would now know them forever. Their faces were lines connecting 30 years before and 30 years hence.

Something similar happened when I met their parents. It’s like by joining the school, we adults are suddenly on a team, knit together by the noisy, beautiful, tantrum-throwing things we care about most. These people want to like you. They are grateful for your effort. Your victories are theirs and vice-versa. Maybe others get this reception in their workplace or church. I wouldn’t know.

The school is in Northeast Minneapolis, an unbusable distance from us. True, I’m refueling my car more often. But the drive is almost absurdly scenic—five rolling miles of Mississippi River I share with rowers, runners and barges. Maybe I’ll buy Jo carbon offsets for her 6th birthday.

Back at home, there’s a palpable sense of relief. That Jo’s happy. That we made a smart decision. And that maybe we’re done with such decisions for a while.

It’s a nice feeling.

>> The Midnight EEz — Childhood Memories

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3 comments
  1. Scott said:

    At least you had the softball thing going (and God knows what else) so when you’re the only parent of the soccer team not to step backwards, you’ll say to yourself “I appear to be a soccer coach” and go do it.

    Great post.

  2. Jake said:

    Surely there’s a Sports Dad out there who will step up, but it ain’t me. I’ll be running the Hide & Seek and Four Square Clubs.

  3. Marc said:

    Whatever it is that’s the opposite of regret, we so often fail to recognize and appreciate feeling it. Kudos.

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