Dear little one,

It's here—your first day of kindergarten. Memories of these past five years are flooding my brain, making me melancholic.

Not long ago I was marveling at my increasing belly and the person who was growing in there. I was waiting for you, excited and anxious. I know you don't remember any of this, but I do. Just like it was yesterday.

I brought you, my sweet baby, home from the hospital. I was absolutely clueless about what I was doing. But we managed. We had lots of late nights together and what seemed like endless nursing sessions. You learned to hold a spoon and we fought your first cold and ear infections as a team. Together, we grew.

We raced to the bathroom when you needed to use the potty. We tore down your crib and put your new sheets on your big kid bed. You held my hand tightly as we looked both ways to cross the street. Then I wiped my tears as you started and mastered preschool.

And now, here we stand. I sit here quietly holding my breath at this milestone. Your crayons, markers and scissors are purchased. I've been anticipating your first day with equal parts of sadness and joy since I filled out your registration papers. Since that day is almost here, I want to remind you of your ABCs. This is the knowledge I hope I filled you with for the past five years. I hope you remember all of it so you can charge confidently ahead.

Always be yourself. You are smart, funny, and kind. You're going to meet lots of new friends—let them see how amazing you are.

Believe in yourself. I've watched you grow these past five years. You learned your shapes, your colors, how to hold a pencil and write your name. You, my darling, can do anything you put your mind to.

Clap your hands loud for your accomplishments and those of your friends. When you learn your sight words—be proud. When your friend learns to count to thirty tell him he did a great job!

Dream of what you want to be. You're just starting your academic journey. Dream big dreams because the world is your stage and you can and will go far.

Explore everything around you. There are different people, animals, and countries in this world. Learn and discover all of them, and don't be afraid of any of them.

Find friends. I hope you discover a good friend or two to share your lunch with and swing beside on the playground.

Give of yourself. If your friend forgot his lunch, share some of yours. If your classmate doesn't understand how to play Chutes and Ladders, take the time to explain the rules of the game to him.

Help. Help your teacher put away books. Help your classmate open her stuck lunchbox zipper. Help your friends clean up. Always be the one who lends a helping hand.

It's not a race. You don't have to be the first one who finished cutting the squares and pasting them onto the paper. Take your time to do your best work.

Jump high. Run. Kindergartner is for learning, but also for fun.

Keep your hands to yourself. Know your boundaries with others and their boundaries with you.

Laugh loud and hard with your new friends. Tell jokes. Enjoy the fun you're having.

March to the beat of your own drum. If your friends are playing a game and you don't want to, you don't have to join. If a classmate is doing something that will get him in trouble, have the courage not to partake.

Nice and neat. Clean up after yourself. Throw away your milk carton and napkins after lunch.

Other classmates may want to put together the puzzle you are working on or play with the kitchen set. Remember to share with them.

Pay attention. Listen to what your teacher says and follow directions.

Question, question, question. If you don't understand why you are grouping red apples on one side and green on the other side—ask. Never be afraid to inquire about something you don't understand.

Raise your hand high. If you know that one plus one equals two, have the confidence to raise your hand and let your teacher know.

Stride confidently and securely in who you are throughout the day.

Tell me anything. If you don't know how to write the letter B, let me know. If a child is teasing you or taking your lunch, tell me. If you said something you shouldn't have in school, share what you said with me. I only want to listen and help you grow.

Use your manners. Please, thank you, and no thank you are a good start.

Voice your opinion. If you are asked how you feel about the color green, let the world know it is your favorite color. Don't be timid—let people know what makes you, you.

Wash your hands. A lot.

X—You might get an X on your schoolwork if you get an answer wrong—and that's ok. It's fine to make a mistake. We all make blunders, you just have to remember to learn from them.

You, my kindergartner, have this. You are ready and so am I. You will shine.

Zip your backpack at the end of the day, clamor outside and know I will be there waiting for you, just like I was the day you were born, with my arms and ears open wide. We will always be a team, little one.

Love always,


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