Lessons and Goals


by Melissa Face

“I want to learn how to wipe my butt,” Delaney said to the principal during her admissions interview. He had asked her what she would like to accomplish in junior kindergarten. Delaney’s response, completely heartfelt and sincere, proved that she understood how to set a goal. It also proved that I was still susceptible to embarrassment from my children.  

That was exactly one year ago.

Now Delaney is one month away from completing her first year of full-time school. She accomplished her initial goal early in the school year, and she has done so much more since then.

Delaney has made many friends in her class, and she talks about them constantly. Each afternoon, she gives me the rundown of who was on green, yellow, and red for the day.

“How about you?” I ask her.

“Green, of course,” she says, with a sprinkle of sass.

And with only a few exceptions, she has left school “on green” every afternoon.

The uniform I worried she would refuse to wear became the one item of clothing that we didn’t have to argue about. In fact, the uniform allowed us five days of fuss-free dressing most weeks. We still had many hairstyle battles, but the plaid jumper was a pillar of stability in our home.

The cafeteria food that I feared she would snub became her most balanced meal of the day. Carrots and broccoli are much more exciting when the school chef sings and does a happy dance after each bite a child takes. It also helped that her friends were sitting next to her, eating the same foods.

Delaney learned how to write her name, spell a few, short words, rhyme, count, and add single digit numbers using her fingers. She learned about religion, how to get along with others, and to treat people with kindness – even when they were unkind to her.

Our proudest moment this year was when Delaney was recognized as the March Peacemaker for her class. Her school held a ceremony, and each child’s teacher read a personal letter that detailed the student’s selection.

Craig and I sat and listened as Delaney’s teacher described our daughter’s charitable acts that included: helping friends when they felt sad, giving up a coloring sheet when someone wanted the other side, and encouraging her classmates to make good decisions.

Then, we had the opportunity to take home a sign to display Delaney’s award in our yard. We placed the sign at the end of the driveway, and when Delaney came home that afternoon, she hopped out of the car and kissed it. She was so proud of her award.

I know this is just the beginning; she has so much to look forward to. And as her mom, I will have many reasons to be proud of her in the future.

Delaney is registered for kindergarten at her brother’s school next year, and she has already decided that she will need a unicorn backpack in September. She’s aware of the transition and is looking forward to it.

And while I am also looking forward to having them both in the same place next year, it’s Delaney’s turn to be patient with me for a while.

I am having an adjustment period.

I am experiencing separation anxiety.

I need to hold on to these last few weeks of junior kindergarten as long as I can. I need Delaney to forgive me if I drive more slowly than usual on our morning trip down Washington Street. I need her to understand if I take the scenic route walking her into before care.

Far too many times, I have wished the weeks and months away, counted them down, looking forward to something better. But it occurred to me that even though we have great things to anticipate, maybe this is the something better. Right now. These are the days that should be savored, not counted down.

I know Delaney was a great student this year, but you can probably guess who learned the real lessons.


Published by melissafacewrites

Melissa Face is the author of I Love You More Than Coffee: Essays on Parenthood and I Love You More Than Coffee: A Guided Journal for Moms (forthcoming). Melissa is a 25-time contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, and her work has been featured in Scary Mommy, Sasee Magazine, Richmond Family Magazine, and Tidewater Family Plus Magazine.

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