For my boy, the day before Kindergarten:
This all felt like a lifetime away when you were teeny tiny and now, cliche as it sounds, it feels like it snuck up on me. Older folks will tell you ‘it goes by quickly,’ and when you are in those early years of parenting, it feels like no such pace. Yet, as we’re on the eve of the first day of kindergarten, and you’re trying on polo shirts and getting a larger lunchbox and reviewing how we handle conflict with friends that should maybe be a liiitttllleee less physical than how you bicker with your spicy little sister, and it truly does feel like a wildly quick, albeit full, five years.
It likely all went unnoticed by you, but deciding where to put you for school this year has caused me all sorts of worry and stress and back and forth. Knowing that we have a choice in this shows immense privilege and I do not take that for granted. I hope one day you see that going to school with daily support from your teachers and parents to learn and grow is a gift not everyone gets. I will remind you of that when it feels hard to hustle out the door or do homework when you just want to play. I wanted to choose what would be best for you but I also see now that I was protecting myself, as well.
Should we hold him back? He cries easily. He’ll be the youngest.
Should we drive further to the better school? I want him to have friends close to our house.
Do we do this or that Spanish immersion school? It will be frustrating for him, different, more difficult, he’ll be behind.
I could talk myself into and out of each option on any given day. In the eleventh hour, we grabbed the last spot at the dual immersion school you are heading to and buddy, I feel really good about it.
I am overly empathetic with you and your sister, and it is tough for me to rise above your emotions sometimes. As an adult, I hope that will read as an extension of my deep affection for you, but in these young years, I know that you look to me for stability. When you cry about getting a shot, I probably shouldn’t cry too ;) If you come home unhappy from school, I would blame myself for making the wrong choice, and I think I was trying to find some way to avoid that. But here is what a wise mentor reminded me: it is not my job as your parent to make everything easy and comfortable for you. A child who does not learn how to work through hard things themselves, how to rise to the occasion and figure things out, won’t have those necessary skills to handle difficult things as they grow up and out of our care.
My job is to support and love you and encourage you - to protect you, yes, but not from a challenge. I want to step in when I see someone take your sand toy at the beach or your sister rages at you, but I also want you to be confident that YOU know how (or can learn how) to handle those circumstances on your own. It may not soak in until I am gone or you are a parent yourself, but I hope that you look back on your experience of me and see that I truly did the best I could to parent you. That doesn’t mean it will all look right by you, and I’ll be the first to say I’ve messed up, and will continue to, but I truly do delight in you. You are loved so completely by your family.
I know that you are kind. I know that you are a good friend and will stick up for your people. I know that you want to be silly and make people laugh. I know that you are incredibly curious and so bright, Curran. From here on out, school will be a big part of your life and is just as much an education in people as it is in every other subject. Ask questions. Include people. Do your best. Choose grace. Speak up for yourself and others. “Cool” is temporary, “nice” leaves an actual impression - be nice.
Home is always here. You will forever have a cheerleader in me. I love you so much, my baby.
MIXED BERRY OVERNIGHT OATS
Makes 6 small servings
I admit I am not really a fan of cold oats, but my kids love these. I did not invent overnight oats, but these are the ratios we’ve been using for a creamy, pudding-like texture. It will looks thin at first, but that liquid is absorbed by the oats and chia to thicken the situation. My kids love carbs; but this adds some fiber and protein and healthy fats so they don’t have a blood sugar crash.
1 1/2 cups nut or oat milk
1 cup plain yogurt (dairy-free varieties work too!)
2 Tbsp. ground flax
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 lb. of mixed berries - blueberries, chopped strawberries, cherries etc.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, flax chia, maple and vanilla and stir well to combine. Add the oats, cinnamon, a big pinch of salt and mix. Stir in half of the berries. You could also just top with the berries, but I find my kids don’t try to pick at it if the berries are just non-negotiably in there.
Transfer the overnight oats into portioned containers and pop them in the fridge for two hours or overnight.
The next morning, garnish with remaining berries, more desired toppings and enjoy!
Oat cups will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.