Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stepping Up is Hard to Do

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” -Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You'll Go!

Now that Peanut is kicking the comfort of daycare off her shoes and heading into Kindergarten in the fall; now that she's participated in the emotional, adorable "stepping up" ceremony that had my face soaked with snot and tears, causing me to lose all of my street cred as a stoic, stone-faced sarcastic dad; now that all of that is behind us and we are looking forward to the rest of her academic career, I have some words of wisdom to impart on Peanut and her pint-sized classmates.

First: Learn to read. You're not going to get anywhere in life having other people read things to you. It's embarrassing, really. Grab a book, sound out the words, and string a sentence together. Educate yourself. Stop relying on other people - mainly, your parents - to read to you. It's lazy. (Actually, you're so close it's scary.)

While we're on the subject of parental dependency, that brings me to my second point: your mommy and daddy aren't always going to be there to help you. Cut your own meat. Blow your own nose. Wipe your own butt. Have some dignity. When you get older, and you ask someone for a favor that you're perfectly capable of doing yourself, and they respond with, "You want me to wipe your butt for you too?" You'll know what I'm talking about. Cut the cord.

That leads perfectly to number three on my list: entitlement. You are not entitled to a snack, a nap, or dessert. You don't get a toy every time we go shopping somewhere. These things are rewards and they are earned. You work hard, you play hard, you follow the rules, you be kind to others, you reap the benefits. Do those things, and you get a bowl of ice cream. Do those things and I'll get you that Rapunzel pez dispenser you've had your eye on. 

Number four: if you don't do those things, you don't get a reward. And you definitely don't cry to get your way. Do you think that's how people act in the real world? In Kindergarten? This is the big leagues. Shape up. Crying because you want to read a different book than we picked? Or because you wanted to be the one who opened the door when we got home? Or because we didn't let you play a ninth round of hide-and-seek before bed? That's immature and unacceptable. Suck it up. Choke back those tears. As The Rolling Stones say, you can't always get what you want. And as Frank Sinatra says, that's life. Sometimes it's not fair. You cooperate and coexist. Deal with it and move on.

Finally: grow up. Everything is not a game. Or a joke. On second thought...who am I kidding? I still make a game or a joke out of almost everything. It's why you're so funny. (That and your mom serves a great 'straight man.') But if you do everything else on my list, you can get away with the occasional - or not-so-occasional - nonsense. People will take you seriously when it matters if you lead by example. Show that you're smart, capable, independent, hard-working, fair, dependable, and realistic. You'll have yourself allies. More important, you'll have yourself friends. Friends you can joke with. Friends you can be silly with. Friends for life.

You stood up there on stage at your Pre-K Stepping Up ceremony. You walked up to the microphone with a big smile. You grabbed it, leaned in, and said confidently and excitedly that your favorite thing about Pre-K was "being with your friends." You can tell a lot about a person by the quality of their friends. Keep surrounding yourself with good people. They will help you. They will love you. They won't judge you. They'll make you laugh in the good times. They'll make you laugh until you cry in the bad times. No person is poor who has friends.

That makes you one of the richest kids I know. Keep doing what you're doing, Peanut. I'll always be here to guide you along.

Kindergarten here we come. But first, one last summer as my baby.

Here is the video of Peanut saying what her favorite thing about Pre-K is. (If you listen closely you can hear a proud dad's reaction):

Two days before her Stepping Up ceremony, I wrote this for my "little girl."


  1. Replies
    1. It's not true... but if you're being genuine, thank you. :-)

  2. i am on a blog hop and determined to visit and follow everyone on the list. i would love for you to visit and follow me

    new follower bev

    1. Will do! Sorry I am way behind catching up. Here I come...

  3. Way to go Peanut! Also, that Dr Seuss quote is one of my favorites. :)

    For Love of Cupcakes

    1. Inside info: They each read a page from that book during the Stepping Up ceremony. It was so great.

  4. This may just be the best thing I have read today (and I've been doing a lot of reading today, the kids are gone!!) I love this list and will keep it in my head and use it for a bedtime story, even for the 10 year old!!! Love it, and love that you keep coming to the Blog Hop!! Wouldn't be the same without you! Have a great week DKL!!

    1. I am so glad you liked it so much!! How cool that you're going to read it to your kids. And I wouldn't miss the blog hop... thanks for organizing and inviting me.


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