I took my son to register for Kindergarten today and among the myriad papers I had to fill out, there was one asking for an introduction to The Boy. The first question was, “What are 5 words you would use to describe your child’s personality.”
Just five? I only got five words to tell them how wonderful this child is? I tried to pick words that were all encompassing.
Delightful. He is a delight. Everything about him makes my heart dance. He is full of wonder and love, and he is young enough that he is still wide open to the world, showing his range of emotions with enthusiasm and without shame. And I ache a little knowing that when I send him to school, along with reading, writing and arithmetic, he will also learn to lower his voice when he is happy, hold in that laughter I love so much, and pretend he’s not hurt when he is. Right now, Elementary School, he is an open delight.
Easy Going. Thor is mellow and sanguine, and he rolls with the punches. More often than not, his answer to change is, “All right, Mama.” When he argues, I know he’s tired, or not feeling enough loved. He says tomato, and you say tomahto, and he’s cool with that. But he is not a doormat. He has a backbone and it is strong. He is a good boy, and he minds. I don’t want anyone breaking his spirit down–my job is to make sure he understands that his performance in school is important, but it isn’t everything.
Inquisitive. This child loves to learn and explore, but he likes to do it at a safe distance. He isn’t the kid in the cabinet, taste testing the bleach. We have never had a safety lock. Instead, we taught him boundaries. We wanted his obedience to come because he trusted us with his well being, not because he just couldn’t figure out how to pick the lock. All doors are open, but not all doors lead to good things. So he understands that it is okay to look, but that he needs more information before he should touch. He may not be able to name the steps, but he and I have been exploring through the scientific method since he was old enough to form hypothesis about what this or that might be, and experiment his way into understanding.
Sincere. Oh my word, this child can break my heart with how earnest he is. He wants desperately to meet our expectations. He has his moments, we all do, but his nature is to strive for approval. I think all kiddos want that, and seek it out. I am Thor’s mother, though, so I see his sincerity as something special and spectacular, and I wonder all the time, “Where did this amazing child come from?” Because I don’t think I was ever this good. In school, he may learn that approval from the teacher will get him teased. At home, his mother will be teaching him to throw a punch, to bust any mockers in the mouth. Not really. I’ll be teaching him to find his worth in himself, and teaching him how to put that backbone to use. (And how to throw a punch, just in case.)
Helpful. This was the last word I chose. I wanted to use a word that would let his teacher know that he was a boy who wanted to be useful. He is a boy who needs to feel involved. He wants to get his hands on things, and he wants to show you what he can do. When he gets to help, he feels proud of himself. I hope that school is a place where he can feel a daily sense of accomplishment. He’s got thirteen years of it ahead of him.
He doesn’t know it yet, but as soon as he walks through those doors in August, he is on a track. He will learn how to read, and communicate in writing, how to work sums and do algebra, he will experience sports, and art, and music, and science, and he will form friendships, and fall in and out of love, and he will have homework, and practice, and hopes for the future. My job is to see to it that in thirteen years he is still delightful, and easy going, and inquisitive, and sincere, and helpful.
Wish me luck.