ON THE EVE OF THE EVE OF SECOND GRADE
Everything is ready for Wednesday. You are so excited for school to start that we HAD to get everything ready tonight, even though school doesn't start for another day.
Your hair is cut. Your dress is ironed and hanging on a wooden hanger, hooked over your bedroom door. Your fingernails are painted black with white polka-dots, just like you asked me to do them. Your backpack is hanging by the front door with your new pencil case inside that Nana made for you.Your soccer stuff is packed for the first practice of the season. Your lunchbox would be packed, had we bought one yet, but as I promised we will go to the store as soon as they open in the morning and buy that turquoise sequinned one you have been eyeing for the past month. Your school snacks are bought, your prescriptions are filled, and the twinkle is in your eye. Your summer reading list is filled out and overflowing with the extra books you read. Your sandals are lined up next to your closet, ready to wear, now that I have convinced you that it is not quite the right weather yet for your new suede cowboy boots.
You are more than ready to start second grade.
I can only hope that I have adequately prepared you for the upcoming school year, and for all the new challenges you will face. In between all the fun that you and I experienced this past summer, I tried to sneak in some worthwhile life lessons where I could. I tried, in the only way I could figure out, to prepare you for what lies ahead. A new teacher. New classmates. New expectations. More homework. More responsibility. Less "playtime." Peer pressure. Cliques. Mean girls. Bullying. School violence. Teasing. Fighting. Cheating. The good, the bad, and everything in between that comes with navigating elementary school.
You are growing up. You are no longer a baby girl. You have opinions, questions, ideas. You are trying to figure out the world around you, the world that is often wondrous and, with growing frequency, scary.
We've discussed a lot of important things this summer. We have discussed what it means to be a good friend, and how to know if someone is being a good friend back to you. We have discussed the importance of kindness, and how you should treat any of your fellow schoolmates with the same kindness and respect you would want them to treat you with. We have discussed how it is more important to be the best you that you can be, rather than trying to be someone that your friends think you should be. We have discussed that it is okay to make your own choices. We have discussed that you should never ever judge someone else simply because they look or act different than you do.
We have discussed the dangers of talking to strangers. We have discussed the importance of always following the rules, because rules exist to keep you safe. We have discussed that there is good and bad in the world and that if anything EVER feels not-quite-right, you immediately should talk to your teacher or your principal and they will make sure to, in turn, talk to me. We have even touched, ever so lightly and delicately, on the subject of drugs and alcohol, because you had questions. I will always answer any questions you ever have for me, even if I think the subject matter is mature for your age. I will always find the words to give you honest but age-appropriate answers.
The world today scares me, because it feels like a place where you are going to be expected to grow up much too fast. I try, as your mom, to walk that fine line of keeping you young and carefree and innocent while adequately preparing you and informing you about the very real dangers inherent in this 2013 version of our society.
So while the clothes are ironed and the bags are packed, and while I hope I've sufficiently prepared you for the challenges you will face this year, I will remember to talk to you tomorrow about the most important things I would like for you to do this year:
Play. Learn. Laugh. Swing on the swings. Hang from the monkey bars. Make new friends. Be a little girl. Have fun. Don't grow up too fast, my sweetie pie. And don't forget, even though I tell you a hundred times a day, that your mommy loves you more than anything in the world.
Remember that, and I will worry about all the rest.