Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Kindergartener Told a Friend She Was Pretty & She Didn’t Believe Him

(*names changed)

Kindergarten is full of lessons. Not just for the little ones, but for the parents too.

I don’t know what exactly happens between preschool and kindergarten, but in kindergarten, the kids start talking and asking questions. Big questions. Life questions. Since the beginning of the school year, my sweet boy has left me flabbergasted more times than I can count. Not just with his questions, but with the things he tells me he has heard at school.

My son is a sensitive soul. He cries easily. He is overcome by music. He is full of love, life and imagination. He loves everyone he meets and has amassed a collection of friends.

Here he is being sweet to his favorite girl (his little sister)

He is still (mostly) innocent. He asked me recently why he can’t marry all the girls in his class. He loves them all. He has promised Sally* to marry her, but Susie* is his best girl-friend and Sarah* is pretty. I tried my best to explain it to him in a way he’d understand. And expressed how thankful I am he has many years ahead of him to show love to all of his girl-friends and does not have to choose just one for a long LONG time.

He recently found out from a classmate that gay men can get married. And the thing that confused him the most was which one would wear the dress. See? He is sweet and innocent. I think they all are when they are in kindergarten.

Which is why what happened on Friday has left me with a nagging feeling that I need to make some changes.

Knox fell in love with the idea of letters on Valentine’s Day. Rather than buying cards from the store, he simply wrote each classmate an individual “love” or “friendship” letter. On plain colored sheets of cardstock with misspelled words, he poured his heart out with words.

Valentine’s Day was not the end. Easter is coming up, so he decided to make Easter notes for his friends. I read each one before he put them in his backpack. Most were variations of “Happy Easter! You are awesome!” or “Here comes the Easter Bunny.”

But, there was one note card that simply said, “You are pretty Sarah.” I paused when I read the note because this was the first time he had clearly shown this type of affection for a female friend. I smiled and told him that was a kind thing to say. Off to school he went on Friday with a backpack full of happy notes.

After school, I asked him what his friends thought of their notes. He said they all liked them, but Sarah thought he was making fun of her. I said, “What?” (remembering Sarah received the special note). He replied, “Yeah, Mom. She got upset and asked if I was making fun of her. I had to tell her over and over that I was not being mean. That I really do think she is pretty. I really do, Mom. Why did she act like that?”

I was silent. I took a breath and whispered a prayer that I would handle it the right way. I told him that sometimes people don’t know they are pretty or have had people be mean to them before so they do not know when someone is being kind. Then, I told him to keep on being kind.

This is a sweet, beautiful, innocent little girl. Yet, somewhere along the way, she has started to question her beauty and how people perceive her. And she is in kindergarten.

And it made me think – what are we silently teaching our children? When my husband compliments me and I brush it off, what do they see? Do they think it means I do not believe his words are true?

What about the times another woman compliments me and I play dismissive? “Oh, this old thing! I got it for five dollars!” or “Oh, please. I look like mess.”

What about the words I say in front of my own mirror?

I don’t know the answer. But, this is the kindergarten lesson I am re-teaching myself: when someone gives me a compliment (especially in front of my children), I am going to accept it graciously. 

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