She is 5. She talks all the time, loves dinosaurs, questions everything in her sight, hates wearing shoes, gives the best hugs and is always up for an adventure. She is 5, and she starts kindergarten this year.
And this 5 year old — who can brighten anyone’s day, has never had trouble making friends or sticking up for herself and is pretty much one of the coolest kids I have ever met — is a little nervous about starting kindergarten. Why? Because she is 5. And kindergarten is a whole new world that she has never experienced before.
What if no one likes her? What if she doesn’t know where to go? What if she doesn’t have any friends? What if her teacher is mean? What if she misses her mom? What if she gets hungry when it is not time to eat? You know, all the normal 5-year-old kindergarten fears.
But do you know what she isn’t worried about this year? Wearing a mask to school. Do you know why? Because she has never gone to school and not worn a mask! Because she is 5 and this is her first year.
You see, she doesn’t know that sitting further apart in class is a new thing. Or that washing your hands 10 times a day at school is not normal. She doesn’t realize that sitting every other chair in the cafeteria and with her direct classmates is different or that recess used to be a combination of many classes and grades. She has never done this before. It is all new to her.
Her sweet little 5-year-old mind is scared to do something new but not scared of all the things that everyone is screaming about. Because those aren’t fears for a 5 year old. She has enough to wonder about starting this new, exciting adventure.
And that’s what it should be! Excitement, maybe some nerves, but confidence in what fun is to come in this whole new world. All the worries about kids being in masks all day or getting cheated of their kindergarten year, those are my adult worries. My quiet-time-with-dad worries. Not a discussion to be had with her because they don’t need to be her worries.
And if for one second you think that she won’t pick up on what I am saying or doing, then just watch her play with her baby dolls. I literally hear myself in her voice when she talks to them. Whether she is passing along our loving, “one and a two and an I love you,” or screaming at them to pick up their toys, she learned it all from me.
Because she is 5. And 5 year olds only know the environment that they have grown up in and been exposed to. She has not been out to experience this big world and can only imagine, hope and worry about things she has been through or are told to her. She doesn’t know about all of these changes coming at school because she shouldn’t know about these things.
And let me tell you one more thing about 5 year olds: They are resilient. Trust me, I have seen some of the stunts this wild child has walked away from. They are moldable and teachable. Growing and learning is a daily thing for them and adjusting to new schedules and structures, are things they can handle with very little if any issues.
But, remember, all of this is new to her. So the adjustments that some people are outraged about are just a small part of her joyful journey into kindergarten. And that’s exactly what it is going to be.
She isn’t missing out on kindergarten or getting cheated. Sure, it may look a little different from the outside looking in, but for her, this is her kindergarten adventure. This is the moment this 5 year old has been waiting on and preparing for ever since her sister left for school two years ago.
And now, finally, it is her turn. This is her adventure and her story that she gets to write however she wants to. And I refuse to allow myself — or any person — with opinions, worries or fears, to persuade the prologue of her masterpiece. Because she is 5. And not knowing anyone, or where to go, or when to eat or who she will talk to is enough to be on her plate.
So, get out there, baby girl. Your kindergarten quest is waiting for you. And I know you are going to love it and totally rock it. Because you are 5 and that’s what you do.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.