Have you seen them on Facebook today? You can’t miss them – crisp, pressed uniforms, clips in hair, white socks and black shoes. They are holding signs and have a picture perfect grin on their face.
Behind the lens, parents are eager to capture this moment, frame a time of enthusiasm and a step into independence and education.
Today I was walking with Tom.
“We are going to get a kinder shirt for when Kinder starts!”
“No! I don’t want to wear kinder shirt! I’m wear THIS SHIRT” *points to Lightning McQueen Polo*
“Oh but I think the Kinder one will be nice. Some of the other kids will be wearing it too”
“NO! Don’t want Kinder shirt! I’m put it IN THE BIN!”
We kept walking. We walked to the supermarket. We bought bread for the ducks. We talked about how he might get his Lightning McQueen one dirty with paint and dirt at Kinder but it wouldn’t matter if it was his kinder shirt.
I showed him a photo of a similar aged cousin on Facebook in her crisp, outfit with the picture perfect grin on her face.
We went to the duck pond. We fed the ducks. We talked about how he could pick what colour shirt he wanted. He said he might like a green one. We were making progress.
As we headed to the store he said maybe he could get a gingerbread man then go get his kinder shirt. I was ok with that. They didn’t have any but they had hedgehog slices. He was ok with that.
When we got to the uniform shop they didn’t have green ones in his size but they had red ones and that was ok too.
When we came home he refused to try it on. I didn’t press.
I don’t even know if he will wear it on the day. And he isn’t going to let me touch his scruffy hair. He might not wear his bag on his back. He also might turn away from me when I try to take a photo.
When we get there, he might cry and he might not even make it through the first session.
There’s also a chance he will do none of this and I will be putting up a picture perfect photo on Facebook.
But it won’t matter to me either way. If you have a child who is anxious, hardly been apart from you, on the spectrum, is shy or has any other type of issue that may stop you from getting that photo, do not dismay. You are still proud of them. This is not a failure. This is not an indication of future education skills or independence.
The frustration may build internally but never forget, that stuff doesn’t really matter anyway. Sure, it’s nice. But it is not what matters.
Education is a journey. Never a destination. And it is ALWAYS individual.