Yesterday I went with my five-year-old to her first meeting with her Kindergarten teacher. The teacher sent me out of the room with a questionnaire while she spent time in the classroom getting to know my daughter.
After filling out various responses to various questions I came to this:
What would you like your daughter to learn during her Kindergarten year?
I found myself writing my answer without any hesitation. It went something like this:
I want her to learn to feel safe in this world. I want her to play and discover her world, and to feel that what she contributes is valuable. I want her to feel accepted where she is in the process of her learning. I want this time to be magical for her. I want her to learn that she can make friends easily. I want her to feel loved, so that she has room to shine.
When I finished writing, I realized that it was very different from what I would have written a few years ago on an academic questionnaire. Before I might have mentioned something about building a solid academic foundation. At that time I had no idea that anything else even mattered. And I would say that I was very dead--make that deadened to life.
Now I realize that I hold the same humble prayer for every dear one and for myself too; that there is nothing more important, than to make room for shining.
Every heart is crying the same, even if it isn't immediately obvious. Welcome me into this world. Just love me. Hold me close when I am full of fear. Listen to my voice, not because I might say something grand, but because I am speaking, and that is worth something. Play with me and let me play in my own way, because it is what comes naturally for me, and anything else feels foreign. I yearn to feel comfortable, so, let me find my way, and I'll let you find yours. Eventually we'll meet up. Let's celebrate our differences together. Let's compare and contrast not to find out who is the best, but to find out about each other--to get to know the heart of one another--then let's watch each other create.
When the teacher read my comment, she intuitively moved into a protective mode for my daughter and for me, recognizing what she assumed must be the anxiety in my answer. A caring response, and yet I know that insuring a child feels safe in the world would be quite a tall order for anyone, that her teacher need do nothing but show up and do her job in the best way that she knows how. In the end, she will be only a small part of the big picture. That is all anyone is in the end, really, even if we judge them as having had a negative or positive effect.
Perhaps, for clarification, I could have added: this is what I wish for my daughter this school year. This is what I wish to begin here and to continue her entire life.
My daughter will likely revisit her memories at the Kindergarten door one day, and see how far she has come from feeling anxious about being left there.
Perhaps, like her mommy has done in her meditations, my daughter will take in that little five-year-old, and herself at all those ages where life became just a little bit bigger, and she will hold them all, and embrace them as part of the whole of her discoveries, as part of her journey, as part of her bravery, and most hopefully, as part of her open heart.
Here's to yet another little being stepping out into the unknown, on the sacred journey of coming home.