an open letter to The Kidling and to kidlings of a certain age

“How are you dealing with Kindergarten?” a drop in to our running-club-that-isn’t-really-a-club asked.

“What?” I replied. “Oh. Great! Honestly, I am just excited for her. She is damn smart. She is just really ready to be a reader.”

And with that, I brushed aside all thoughts of anxiety regarding my youngest–my only–child’s matriculation into the garden of children… until two Saturdays ago. On that day, it all came. At first it whispered, politely tiptoeing toward me. Shortly thereafter, it spoke more firmly and picked up its pace. Then it whacked me right over the head.


Because on that fateful Saturday, I found myself at Standard Department Store. Yes, the same one that gave me corduroy shorts with opaque tights in adolescence. Perms and bad bobs in my childhood. But that day, it gave me something else: anxiety.

On that far-from-fine day, The Mama decided to buy The Kidling’s new school clothes. Pretty striped cotton dresses, practical tees and leggings, perhaps a fall jacket… things that scream “The Kindergartner from The Middle(west).” And I did find those things. It’s just that I also found… Other…


Things that I wasn’t ready to see in size 5.  The details aren’t worthy of recounting,

Tight things, short things, one-shouldered things, things with words I don’t want to read in places I don’t want to read them

but the outcome is: fear. Genuine, chest-tightening fear. Fear of the influence of the world. Fear that The Dada and I will no longer control the message. Fear that–god forbid–The Kidling will actually want those awful things.

Fear that the world won’t be kind.

Fear that The Kidling won’t be kind.

Fear that she will struggle–with friendships, with learning, with anything.

Fear that she will be cruel to friends who struggle.

Fear that she will be judged.

Fear that she will judge.

Fear that she will get hurt.

Fear that she will hurt someone else.






I was so busy with my fear that I nearly forgot to notice today. But first times are sacred and deserve to be memorialized. So I noticed.

And I am writing.


Dear The Kidling (and friends);

This morning

After you went outside in your perfect first-day-of-school outfit and played with sidewalk chalk in your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit and covered your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit with said sidewalk chalk and apologized for covering your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit with sidewalk chalk and went inside to take off your perfect-first-day-of-school outfit and changed into clothes.

you went to Kindergarten. Kindergarten! I know you are a genius, but this seems extreme. You were, after all, born just yesterday. Which is why my heart could burst, I am so proud of you.

A few weeks ago, we sat on our front steps and ate ice cream. When I thanked you for being part of my life, you laughed at me. Then you shrugged your tiny little shoulders

Shoulders on which the weight of the world seems sometimes to rest.

and said “Well, you created me,” because you had no choice in the matter.

Which is kind of awesome, because I know you would choose Nana.

Whether by choice or by nature, I am ridiculously lucky to have you. Not that I am foolish enough to think that you are meant to be had. Rather, I am so, so fortunate to have you here. With me. With The Dada. Every day, as part of our crazy little ride on this planet. And, for what it’s worth, I have no idea what I did to deserve you, but whatever it was, I am damn glad I did it. And if that thing that I did occurred in a past life, then I am seriously thanking dead-previous-The-Mama.

Really. Thank you for not being a total jerk to someone with the power to ensure future-The-Mama got screwed over with a boring, bratty kid.

On such a monumental day, I don’t have nearly as much advice as I wish I did. What little I have to offer is so very important: No matter what, be you. Always be you. Even when you forget who “you” are. Even when you lose “you.” Even when the “you” you find is wholly different from the one you lost. Be you. Strong, kind, quirky, clever, smart, stubborn, loving, rambunctious, curious, agile, witty, loud, beautiful, spunky, mouthy,

but not too mouthy

you. Because I love the shit out of you. And I always will.

The Mama

About The Mamahttp://kidlingville.comProfessional talker, editor, emailer, problem solver, adjunct lecturer, blogger, and mother to the brilliantly absurd Kidling.

22 thoughts on “an open letter to The Kidling and to kidlings of a certain age

  1. As I stay up entirely too late the night before Maggie goes to her first day of preschool I read this. So lovely, Christine. Made me tear up. Thanks for sharing. Gulp. Here we go.

  2. This is lovely, Christine–funny, sad, heartwarming, honest, vulnerable, proud–the whole enchilada. I don’t have children and *I* felt anxious and proud for The Kidling’s first day of kindergarten as I read this! You’ll both do fine–I can feel it. 🙂

    • Thank you, Lori. It is as anxiety-inducing as anything else I have ever done (with law school exams a close second). Alas, she is growing into an amazing little person, so it is hard to be too sad.

      (But worried is still quite easy for me to be…)

  3. So glad I found your blog. Your post made me smile 🙂 Life truly moves to fast, and it seems to move even faster in the early years of childhood!
    With respect, hope, joy and love, Carmela

  4. Amen. Namaste. Been there. And we are still in preschool! E has already been laughed at, which made her, understandably, “sad”. It was by a cousin, which somehow softened the pain. For me. At least.

    But the situation made me think long and hard about the tape I want to run through her mind in these unsavory instances. Poor thing. This Mama s always been a bit wordy. But here it is.

    “To be yourself, in a world that is constantly trying to change you, is the greatest accomplishment.”

    There are always going to be people who laugh (say hurtful things, whatever), but that is really about them. They feel uncomfortable (unworthy, whatever) maybe simply because you are being yourself, which is different from them.

    But there will always, always be people who love you and want to be with you for who you are. You be you.

    Poor thing. It s just a string of words right now, but I’m hoping that eventually it will sink in and resonate.

    Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly has been so interesting and helpful as I guide little Miss.

    Thanks for the post. So good to know we are not alone.

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