Elizabeth has always been my orderly, methodical one-just like her dad. It has served her well and is just one of the many things about her that makes her the wonderful nurse she is. But once upon a time Elizabeth had to put aside her design for what she thought the order of things should be...
Elizabeth was more than ready to start kindergarten-so much so that she was only four when she climbed onto that school bus to enter the world of education. She was bright, articulate and loved to learn. Thankfully, we still had half-day kindergarten because her younger sister and I were more than ready to have her return home to eat lunch with us and tell us all about her first day of school.
She stepped off the bus and immediately started telling me the names of her new friends, how her brother had walked her to her class and that they had a snack-but that she didn't drink her milk (no surprise there). All seemed right in her world. But when we sat down to eat lunch, she looked at me with all the seriousness in the world and said, "Mom, I think I made a big mistake."
"Really? What mistake do you think you made, sweetie,"" I asked.
"I think going to school is a mistake," Elizabeth said sadly.
My heart sank. This was something that couldn't be changed. Did I not know my daughter as well as I thought I did? I knew I had to fix this quickly, so I hesitated for only a second before I asked Elizabeth why she thought going to school was a mistake.
"Mom," she said with a mix of sadness and disappointment, "They didn't teach me to read."
Talk about relief! I almost laughed out loud I was so relieved. But I didn't. This was serious stuff to Elizabeth so it was serious stuff to me, too.
As parents we sometimes have a been-there-done-that kind of attitude. We know that many of the things our children worry about (like not learning to read on the very first day of kindergarten) aren't nearly as 'bad as all that'. But they don't. And to make them feel small or to insinuate their feelings are unimportant or insignificant is NOT a good thing.
Instead of dismissing their feelings as silly or unnecessary, take the time to explain why they don't need to worry and/or how they can (with your help and encouragement) overcome and work through their feelings and concerns.
In Elizabeth's case it took little more than an explanation of how school 'works' and the assurance that she would learn to read when everyone in the class was ready to learn. Well, that and the promise to start teaching her a few more sight words at home.
The world is a great big and somewhat scary place to children. They need to know that their own little piece of it (aka, home) is safe, nurturing, encouraging and a place where they will never be made to feel insignificant and will always be listened to.