My daughter is about to start kindergarten. I'm already oscillating between ecstatic excitement and pathetic sobs. OK, so I haven't actually sobbed yet, but I'm fairly sure I'll be ugly-crying as the school bus drives away on that first day.
But this post isn't about that. It's about all the things she is about to face. I can see her school career stretched out before her and it's a virtual minefield of social and emotional traps and pitfalls. I know there's no way for me to protect her from it. I know she can't learn through my mistakes. I know she has to navigate this sometimes treacherous journey on her own. But if I could, I'd want her to know this:
- Befriend the nerds, the geeks, the weirdos. When everyone grows up, these are the people great husbands, wives and best friends are made of.
- Don't be scared of the bullies. Mean people are everywhere and they feed off fear. Be the kid who stands up. Be the kid who protects the little guy.
- Don't exchange what you know in your heart for what you think others will find cool.
- Know who your real friends are.
- Peer pressure is stupid, and anyone applying it to you is not worth your worry.
- Your life is so long ahead of you, all of this daily drama is small in the big picture.
- Whatever it is that is breaking your heart today, I promise that it's not that important. Let it go and move on.
- Don't let yourself be labelled or pigeon-holed. People will try. You can be as many different things as you want to be, and you can always change.
- It's OK to be different.
- It's OK to be popular. It's OK not to be.
- It's OK to be into sports or theater or music or math.
- It's OK to work hard and do well.
- It's OK to struggle.
- It's OK to be embarrassed once in a while.
- It's OK to have friends in different cliques.
- It's OK to have a lot of friends. It's OK to have a few.
- It's OK to do and be whatever it is you want.
I can't put all of this perspective into the head of a girl who has no perspective yet. I can't wrap her up and shield her from all the stress, angst and worry that she will need to suffer in order to gain this perspective for herself. All I can do is sit by and watch it happen, and be here to catch her when she falls.