Kindergarten is going very well for Daniel. He loves his teacher, gets along with the kids in his class, and somehow still has energy to burn at the end of the school day. Academically, he is doing just fine. He seems to have above-average math skills (which comes as no surprise, actually. I don't think there is anyone in either my family or Stuart's who had trouble with math), and I can tell he's improving leaps and bounds with reading and literacy.
A few nights ago at bedtime, he had a special request for me. "Mom, when I wake up in the morning, do you suppose there might be a little love note from you under my pillow?" he asked. Of course I obliged, and I have every night since then. I usually just write something simple like "Dear Daniel, I hope you have a good day. I love you. Mom." Daniel has been returning the favor, leaving little notes he write himself on our pillows and in our dresser drawers. This morning I found one he wrote to Anya. It said: DEAR ANYA I LOVE U HAVE A GOOD DAY U ARE A GOOD GERLL AND I HOPE THIT U THINGCK THIT U LOVE ME I THINGCK U SHUD LOVE ME ("Dear Anya, I love you. Have a good day. You are a good girl and I hope that you think that you love me. I think you should love me.") My heart melted a little. Also, he needs to learn how to spell "that," "girl" and "think."
That boy is so full of kindness and love, it just spills out of him. I worry sometimes that this translates into naivety, and that more calculating children will take advantage of his generous spirit. I'm talking about bullies. More than once, Daniel has come home and talked about a bully on the playground, an older kid who pushes others off the equipment and gets into trouble. So far, the kindergarteners have not been targets of this behavior, so Daniel speaks as a witness and not as a victim. I tried explaining to him that some kids come from homes where they aren't treated well, where grown-ups aren't nice to them, so they bring their anger and bad behavior to school. It's not an excuse, I said, but it helps explain why bullies act the way they do.
There are some lessons in life we all have to learn one way or another. It's hard knowing that sooner, rather than later, my kid will learn that life is simply unfair for a lot of people out there. He will see suffering, poverty, racism, and just plain bad behavior, and not because he doesn't go to a good school (his school has a very good reputation, and as far as I can tell, its reputation is well-founded), but because this is simply the reality of public schools, even good ones. I wasn't naive enough myself to believe otherwise, but the reality is starting to sink in for me.