What I Learned in Kindergarten the Second Time Around

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I haven’t posted in awhile.  Our family was plagued with multiple illnesses over the last 6 weeks, and with both parents juggling careers, our household has gone through some moments of chaos, exhaustion and well…ugliness (But as my son would readily remind me, we’ve had lots of opportunities to use the “life skill of flexibility”).  Finally, after various bouts of strep throat, stomach bugs and bad colds, we seem to all be healthy. And I am thankful for it and feeling particularly grateful for my kids’ general good health.  Throughout this period, I’ve been reminded of the wisdom of Glennon Melton’s concept of carpe kairos (appreciating moments, rather than days) when raising young kids.

During one round of stomach bug, while I sat on the bathroom floor with my daughter, not sure which end the “illness” was going to come pouring out of next, I learned a lesson about the power of stories.  She was so distraught and upset.  Nothing would comfort her…not even the iPad.  Yes folks, she was TOO SICK TO PLAY THE IPAD.  The only thing she wanted was to sit on my lap and have me read her books.  So there we were, surrounded by towels, a big metal bowl and a stack of books. I think a lot about the power of stories in a professional context, but this experience was a sweet (if not sweet-smelling) and necessary reminder of the comfort and connection that stories provide.

And in the midst of all this, my son graduated from kindergarten!  He is going to be a “grader”, as he so reverently calls it. This is wonderful and exciting but I am feeling some sadness and nostalgia.  No doubt it’s about my first born growing up. Perhaps it’s because I’m a little misty-eyed after watching (again) the beautiful DVD his teacher, Mrs. D, created: a sweet photo montage of his class over the school year.  And I’m thinking of Mrs. D and how very, very lucky my son was to have her this year, and how lucky we are as parents to have her in our lives, too.

If you regularly read this blog, you may recall that I was quite enamored with his teacher from the first day of school and recognized she is something quite special.  But throughout the year, I’ve had the chance to observe what she does, through volunteering in the classroom periodically and through all the stories and tidbits my son shares with me.

As a parent, I have so much appreciation and admiration for all Mrs. D has taught my son and his classmates, and how those teachings will continue to shape them as they grow.  And as a leadership coach and someone interested in organizational culture, I’m fascinated by how she’s building an environment to nurture growth and learning.

What I’ve finally put my finger on is that Mrs. D’s genius comes from a beautiful combination of both bringing the world into her classroom and creating a world within the class.  Through studying art, music, science, the natural world history and current events, she creates a vibrant classroom and community, reflected by the cheery artwork and creative student projects that line the walls.  But the real magic to me is the world that Mrs. D creates with them — one where empathy comes first, where all students are really seen, where she meets them where they are and holds them up to the best versions of themselves.

Maybe this is one of those parenting moments, this deeper learning and appreciation of watching your kids grow up, this hint of nostalgia, this deeper perspective of childhood you don’t get when you’re going through it. I wish there was a word for it. It’s a mix of gratitude, reverence, and maybe some wisdom.  And I’m realizing that as my kids grow, I’m growing as a parent.

So, as the years march on and my son grows up (and I continue to grow alongside him as a parent) and some of his memories of kindergarten inevitably fade along with the stack of lovely artwork he brought home, here’s my wish for him: that he continues to embrace the world that Mrs. D created in their classroom. I wish he listens with both his head and his heart, that he always holds himself and others up to their best versions and that he remembers kindness first.

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5 Comments on “What I Learned in Kindergarten the Second Time Around”

  1. Dencie Olson
    June 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Heather you need to write a book (books) so EVERYONE can enjoy > you have a great way with words > you make me feel as if I was right there with you guys!

    • hlspain
      June 23, 2015 at 7:10 am #

      Awww, thanks for saying that, Dencie. And thank for reading! xo

  2. cherylplotner
    June 24, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Thanks, Heather, for this glimpse into the world of kindergarten again! As my daughter nears her 15th birthday, I’m reminded of her magical kindergarten year with Teacher Judy and her faithful assistant Dani. Such sweet reflections…

    • hlspain
      June 25, 2015 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks, Cheryl. Happy to hear your memories from your daughter’s time in kindergarten have stuck with you (and are also magical!) What a gift that is. Happy early birthday to your daughter.

  3. Eric Earle
    July 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    you have such a great writing voice

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