My first child leaves the nest this August to take on the murky watercolors of life in Kindergarten. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for her. She is a unique child and struggles with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and pragmatic language disorder, meaning, she’s socially inappropriate or awkward at times. It may seem like this would work to her disadvantage, but she is so much more tenderhearted and compassionate because of it. She is preparing herself every day for Kindergarten by packing crayons and little colorful erasers in her pony backpack, and I am preparing myself in other ways.
What if the other kids don’t understand her humor?
What if they hate how close she stands?
What if they don’t understand her innocence behind certain behaviors?
I could let these anxieties worm their way into my brain all day long if I wanted to. However, life has armed me with some empowering knowledge along the way: Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay.
I have met some folks throughout my time here on the blue planet that didn’t understand me, misjudged me, or didn’t like me. When I first encountered these people, it would wreck me, and I would feel terrible.
But now I know not to let it wreck me because I am trying my best each day. That’s the only thing I can do. And that’s all I ask of my daughter as she goes to school.
I tell her to remember to take a deep breath, try to be kind, and to feel free to come home and talk about it with mommy and daddy, and we can work through these uncomfortable feelings together.
I know that her giant heart, loud voice, and, at times, rigid preferences will land her in sticky situations. At school, I won’t be there to watch from the sidelines, making sure certain lines aren’t crossed, or that hurtful things don’t get taken too far. So I try to arm her now with truth she can take with her: she is loved just as she is, and if not everyone understands or likes her, that is okay (though I do pray that a special handful will come along that get her spunk).
As I send my daughter outside the cocoon of our home, I know not everyone will “get” her like we do. I know that some kids may be downright mean at times. I don’t want her to feel helpless in these scary situations. So I’ve tried to teach her how call out a bully and put a stop to meanness when she encounters it.
She isn’t allowed to hit others or be violent, and I don’t prefer that she run around crying and tattling all the time, but she’s certainly allowed to say, “You are being a bully” if the shoe fits. She has said it more than once, and it stopped the terrorizer in his or her tracks.
Sometimes it really works. It starts a conversation that needs to be had about what is happening, and a solution is reached.
Sometimes naming the meanness doesn’t work, and my daughter is hurt by what has happened. The good thing is, when my daughter, in turn, is being a bully and I call it out, she knows exactly what I mean.
I know that she needs a supply list of everything from pencils to Kleenex, but the one thing I can’t send is myself. I hope and pray these two lessons, knowing that she is loved for who she is (even if not everyone understands her), and the ability to stand up for herself in difficult situations, will serve her well in school.
I certainly don’t want to try and micromanage the teacher or other children in order to insure my daughter’s happiness, but I can arm her with knowledge.