Usually I keep the letters for your birthday, but on such a momentous occasion as your first day of Kindergarten, I'm making an exception. Please note that I am keeping the schmaltz at bay, which is exceedingly difficult for me. I'm doing my best with this post to give some advice to you as your mother, as a former teacher, and as a woman in her thirties who thinks she has learned a thing or two. I am not foolish enough to think that you will take my advice below (kids never do, amiright?). But hey, it's August of 2016, and things are so totally wonky in this world right now that it's proof stranger things have happened.
1. Understand how lucky you are.
I could go on and on and ooooooonnnnn about this, but I think this little tidbit of advice speaks for itself. In a world where MANY kids don't have enough food to eat at home, where education isn't a priority, where resources can be scarce or non-existent, YOU HIT THE SCHOOL JACKPOT, and don't you forget it.
2. Choose your friends carefully.
What makes Kindergarten so difficult for me to wrap my brain around is that you will soon be making your own friends, outside my influence. And those friends will influence you. You have an enormously kind and loving heart, and in many ways this is a disadvantage to you. Spend time with people who love, support, and encourage you as you are. Exactly as you are.
3. Remember you aren't special.
Anna, it physically pains me to write that. Because to me, to your dad, to your grandparents, you are EVERYTHING. You are a magical bunny that dances on rainbows. But you are a person in a world full of people, none of whom you are better than. Someday, after extensive therapy, you will realize I am right. Bad things happen in a world where one person feels superior to another, and these are things you will see with your own eyes. In the meantime, remember that when you see a kid different than you in any way, when you pass the custodian in the hall, when you succeed where others don't, you are no more deserving of respect or appreciation than anyone else. So give it freely, to everyone.
4. It is okay to fail. In fact, it's preferred.
You are not going to be good at everything, and yet the reality is that people are defined by their successes. You, in school, will see that on a magnified scale. (Testing, gifted programs, tutoring, oh my!) What you don't see is that you will learn far less from your successes than you will your failures. It will suck to fail. Yes, it will suck some serious suckage. But you will grow from those failures, and that growth is something to be proud of.
5. Be positive. Almost always.
In case you haven't figured this out yet, school is going to be a major part of your life for a majorly long time. The way I see it, you have two choices: grump about it, or see it as an opportunity. In kindergarten, being positive it going to be fairly easy. But that is going to get harder as the years go on. Your yogi-mom knows one thing for sure: the energy you put out into the universe is very much in your control (one of the only things that is!). So be positive, and spread the positivity, even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard.
6. Your world is limitless.
This is less a piece of advice and more a mantra I want you to keep with you on your first day of school, all the way to your last. Each teacher you have, each class you take, each project you put your full effort into, will open a door to a possibility in your life. You will not walk through every door, of course. But keeping in mind how lucky you are, how privileged you are, and choose each possibility with equal parts caution, confidence, and responsibility.
You are so ready for this. Despite my reticence to let you go, I too am ready for this. We are in this together, even when we're not. I'm so proud of you, my perfect little rainbow-bunny. The world needs what you are about to learn to give.