Last year he cried – a lot. And it wasn’t the kind of crying where you know it will stop shortly. These were big tears and a lip that quivered. He accepted comfort, a lap to sit on, a story, a soft voice. His shoulders would heave and soon the sobbing became a whimper. He loved trains and play dough and paint. Months passed and the crying wasn’t nearly as frantic. But he was still on the verge of falling apart. The teachers kept their eye on him, stepping in just before, just in time. As spring approached, I saw more smiles than tears. As I watched this dance, I came to believe that he knew he was loved, knew he belonged.
Summer passed and September arrived. He was still one of the smaller children but there was something different. He looked around the room and spotted the trains. “I still really like trains” he told me. “And I am not going to cry now.” And he was right. He hasn’t cried, well maybe that one day when he fell. He starts most days in the train and block corner but each week he move more easily to the tables activities. He mostly listens at circle but once in a while he speaks up, sharing an idea or an observation. He has a best friend.
Now comes the question of readiness. What does his story tell us about his readiness for kindergarten? Is his preference for trains over table work the only piece of his story we read? Or can we look back at the story of this last year, almost sixteen months of growing and learning and becoming. Sixteen months is a long time when you are not yet five. This is the challenge. To look at the whole story, not just this chapter that is open right now. And to take time to flip back the pages and remember what came before, not rushed by the deadline of kindergarten registration. This is a story that I want to get better at telling.