Monthly Archives: October 2014
Kindergarten placement testing. That moment of truth where you know whether your efforts in early learning, flash cards, and countless stories made a difference. Whether those moments counting everything in sight, sorting, categorizing, and teaching your toddler (then preschooler, then child) to follow directions were effective.
I had been both anticipating and dreading the moment. He is my youngest, and since our middle child began attending school in fall of 2011, it had been just the two of us during school hours.
But it was also a time of change for our family. I started school again, and began working from home as an editor and ghostwriter. Amidst all that, I knew I did not give him as much time and focus – scholastically speaking – as our first two children.
Hence the mingling of anticipation and trepidation. The defining moment arrived. Our van was in the shop so my dad dropped us off at the school he would be attending in the fall. I waited in the office while he took the test.
Finally, the door opened. The kindergarten teacher walked up the hallway, approaching us. My son followed her. She stopped by the principal’s office and he ran up to me. “Mommy, I did very, very, well.”
Well, that was a good sign, especially since he doesn’t normally use the words “very,” especially twice in a sentence. Maybe he heard it straight from his prospective teacher.
She called me into the office and showed me how he did. She turned the pages of the test, explaining briefly what he had been asked to do on each one. He aced following directions, did well in problem solving, and thinking skills (probably talked a blue streak while working out certain problems). He struggled with the page on phonics. Overall, besides the phonics page, the teacher said that he did “very, very well.”
I was happy. My teaching had been at least relatively successful. Even though I hadn’t given him all the attention and focus that I had wanted to, he was definitely ready for kindergarten. It was all good.
My son played outside while we waited for my dad to pick us up. After a few minutes, he came to sit beside me. “Mommy, I wish sometimes that the Bible would tell us that we don’t have to be nice to each other. I wish it would say that we can be selfish and think about ourselves.”
I blinked, taken aback at his statement, but thankful for his honesty. My other two kids had never said anything like that, especially not at five years old. I tried not to overreact. After all, he wasn’t angry. He was just expressing how he felt. About something rather important, in my point of view.
I said, “Well, let’s think about how life would be if the Bible told us that we could do whatever we wanted. What would the world look like if people did anything they wanted to?”
His eyes glazed over. It was clearly too nebulous of a question. I realized I’d have to bring it home a little closer.
“What if the farmers didn’t feel like doing their work and decided to do something else instead? Or the truck drivers who bring food from the farms chose to stop bringing things like milk, fruits, and vegetables to the stores? Then we wouldn’t have anything to buy. What if the people who keep the streets safe or keep the traffic lights working decided they didn’t want to help people and went home?”
He was quiet, but I could tell he was thinking about it.
“What if Mommy decided I didn’t want to take care of you for a little while? What if I felt like going to a trip to the mountains so I could read and write?”
He looked at me and laughed. It was a small laugh, as if he wasn’t sure whether I was joking or not.
“I would never do something like that, and I’m happy to take care of you because I love you.”
He seemed satisfied with my answer. Usually, if he didn’t agree with something, he would either continue the discussion or stalk off in a huff (and then I’d have to reason with him a little more).
So my youngest son entered kindergarten. I no longer have him with me for the majority of the day. Does that mean my job is ended? Not by a long shot. That single conversation showed me just how important and vital my role as a mother is. And I’m in it for the long haul.
Only God knows what kinds of questions he will come up with on his own, much less what kinds of attitudes and perspective he will face when he enters school. He will likely bring home or store up in his mind many new thoughts and questions, things he will need to weigh up against the foundations that my husband and I have taught him and are teaching him.
I am tempted to get overwhelmed by the responsibility, rearing a child – not scholastically, but spiritually and morally. Teaching Him about God and truth and love. What threatens to alarm me most is that I can give this little man all the information in the world, but only God can do the work in his heart.
But I can help. I can help by praying. By “raising him up in the way he should go,” by loving him and reasoning with him and keeping an open dialogue with him, and with his brother and sister, as they learn and grow. By giving them solid input and informing them of all sides of deep, foundational issues. By having the courage to let them come to their conclusions. Then I can pray some more, that the conclusions will be good one, and that they will grow into courageous and compassionate grownups.
At the end, that’s the very best I can hope and pray for … for any of the upcoming generation.