Kindergarten, Kermit, and Keeping it Real

Bärli,

You are ruminating about all-day school.

You told me you were going to find your way home, if I left you at school.

You told me you wouldn’t be able to eat your lunch because you would be crying.

Last night, you woke yourself up, crying, and came in the room telling me “I am so scared to be without you for the whole day, what will I do?” I told you to go get Cuddle Bear and while you did that? I looked up at the ceiling and got my own tears under control.

God, I get it. You are a COVID kid. Even your first go at school was interrupted, time and time again, by outbreaks or precautions or quarantine. You don’t know what this is like. It’s been a very strange introduction to the real world, for kids that were born in the years just before 2019. Rarely do I have the golden solution, but I did last night: “Let’s call Kermit.”

We’d discussed what happened to me on my first day of Kindergarten. I met my classmates, one of whom has remained so dear to my heart that I cry, when he cries. I celebrate, when he celebrates. It’s not even just him, it’s his family. They suffer? I suffer. They laugh, I laugh. It all started in Kindergarten.

Knowing now that he answered his phone during a dinner date, with your Godmother Elizabeth, makes last night even more special.

“What’s wrong, buddy?”

I guess he always calls kiddos “buddy?” I don’t know, I just know he calls you “buddy.” You love it when he calls you “buddy.” You love it so much, you asked me to start referring to you as “buddy.”

So, I told him what was going on. “Your Mommy and I met when we started Kindergarten, so you never know who you might meet.” This started a calming process. After you talked to Kermit, we hung up.

Today, still nervous. I’m talking about me, not you. You are great now. You were starting to think about if L* might be your best friend this year or if it would still be G*. I mean, you are ready now.

But, I’m worried. I’m worried you are too prepared (reading really well, writing so beautifully, spelling some tough words, adding and subtracting a bit, you know where Japan is on a map for pity’s sake) and you’ll be bored. I’m worried I’ll send my kid to school and then the school will get locked down and I’ll absolutely lose my s**t. I’m worried some kid will tell you you’re weird because you don’t have a dad around. Mainly? I’m worried to not have you in my eyesight.

I think about it all. I know Pop Pop and Lindy didn’t worry about gun violence or the whitewashing of history or relegation of “the arts” to an hour a week. I wonder what you will worry about one day and I pray to God, I pray to GOD, we have stopped this insanity.

My beautiful boy, I pray our collective humanity will be greater than the chaos, greater than the fear-driven politics of the far right, greater than the delusion of the far left. Most of us just want to live better, kinder, safer. Whether we are black, white, rich, poor, college-educated, street smart, tall, short, foreign, or American; so, I sincerely pray and follow-through with my vote that we will find our way to a future that is worthy of you and the kiddos I’ve coached. Most of us just want…to send our kids to school and not worry. We want it to be better for you all, better for your kids, better for us all.

We want to worry about whether or not you ate all your lunch, or if you just ate the “yummy stuff.”

We want to worry about the spelling test and if you nailed the word “lighthouse” or not.

We want to worry about if you got to be the Line Leader, like you’d hoped.

We want to worry about if your new shoes felt as comfortable at the end of the school day, as they did when you wore them to school. The girl with the green shoes and the heart in Uvalde…so, there we go. Back to what you’ll face when you have your first active shooter drill. There’s the worry of today’s reality, for parents. It’s not some abstraction, it’s real. It can happen to me or any other parent (Sandy Hook Promise).

So, as you are sleeping and feeling better, I’m working through my own fears and keeping it real, away from you. It’s okay for me to feel nervous and there is no Kermit that will make that better, just me.

Glad I have independent thinking, my faith, and my vote. I believe that we will make it through this time that is filled with far too much worry.

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