To you, my first graduating child,
This June, you will graduate from pre-school. You will perform as Dory and sing your heart out, do a costume change, and march back out in your cap and gown to receive your diploma. I will most likely be crying. I will definitely smile until my cheeks hurt and I will snap as many pictures as I can.
But none of that will truly matter. Not the date that I’ll remember yearly with Facebook notifications, not the diploma I’ll put in a scrapbook, and not the pictures I’ll post in numerous shared albums.
Dear daughter, please understand that I’ve attended numerous high school graduations (you actually came to one, too). I know this ceremony is an important accomplishment, but I’m here to tell you that every graduate is more important than the graduation itself. What truly matters and will be forever remembered is how you’ve come to define yourself leading up to that graduation and how you’ll continue to redefine yourself after that graduation.
So, dear daughter, let me remind you of who you are right now, a few months shy of kindergarten. These three most defining traits are a reminder to me as well. They represent promises and hopes I will hold within my heart for the entirety of my life as your mom.
You are a tireless and passionate reader.
You have stayed up way too late far too often, so you could finish the stack of books in your bed. I’m still not entirely sure how you taught yourself to read. I remember being amazed when you started reading signs of streets, buildings, and random local banners that we passed on our drive home from pre-school. Once you started, you couldn’t stop. You struggled with certain words that strung together letters in a way that didn’t make sense. You asked for help, questioned the reason behind its sound, and stored it in your mind. You treat your skill as a gift to share with others, not a talent to show off to others. I hope reading will always be your source of joy, seeking knowledge, and building compassion.
You are a rule follower, but you’ve recently started to process that you rule yourself.
Your most recent and adamant motto is, “You don’t make the rules for my life! I only make rules for my life!” It started as a dramatic stomping up the stairs for bath time, but it turned into a conversation about why you are absolutely correct. As you continue to grow up, I promise to only make rules for your well-being (however annoying they may seem). I will never make rules for what you want to do with your life. Study what you want. Join whatever teams or clubs you want. Believe what you want. Set your own goals and follow them wherever they take you.
You are a kind soul.
You’ve been at this school for almost three years and you’ve seen many kids come and go. You remember all of them and can describe some memory of them that makes you smile. You are concerned when someone is sick or hurt. It doesn’t matter if it is someone in your immediate family or a stranger of any age when we are out in public. Before every bite you take, you put your food up to the mouths of your stuffed animals. You spontaneously say, “I love you,” throughout the day. You cry, not when Dory loses her parents, but when she’s finally reunited with them. You’re too overcome with emotion to speak. So every time the scene unfolds, you reach up to me or Daddy and burrow your wet face into our chest. I hope love continues to be your daily guide.
This June, when you graduate from pre-school, I know that the friends graduating alongside you, the teachers who’ve encouraged you for this window of your life, and the family members who are your greatest audience, will all hug you. I don’t know what will be running through your mind as you hug us back. Just know, sweet girl, we are all so proud to know and love you, our accomplished graduate.