A learning experience for my child and me

By Jason Smith


How did we get here?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself over the last few days.

My little girl is in her final week of kindergarten. I’m not sure how this happened. It all went by so fast. But, she’s had a great year, and I’m so proud of all that she’s accomplished over the last several months.

It seems like just yesterday that I was taking pictures of her preparing to get on the bus for the first time, wondering how she would fare in an unfamiliar environment with total strangers. I should have known I had nothing to worry about. My child loves meeting new people, and she loves learning. She’s an amazing person, and I wake up every day in awe of the fact that I get to be her dad.

My little girl has made my wife and me proud with her capacity for processing new information. Her teacher even tells me that she’s seen my child volunteer to help other kids along who might be struggling in certain areas. I can’t adequately express in words how proud I was when I heard that.

Of course, as wonderful as my child is to me, she has also had her moments when she’s reminded me that she’s the quintessential six-year-old child. I can recall earlier in the school year, when she and I had the following exchange:

Me: “What did you do at school today?”
Her: “Learn, learn, learn and have fun.”
Me: “What did you learn?”
Her: “I have no idea.”

She’s given me laughs like that on almost a daily basis. She’s the funniest person I know, even when she’s not trying to be.

As many parents have done over the years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much my little girl has grown – she’s the tallest girl in her class, you know – and how far she’s come since that first day of kindergarten. I’ve also thought about how much we’ve learned about each other and ourselves in the process.

In her case, I’ve marveled at her ability to master her “sight words” and hone her reading and math skills. I’ve watched her form friendships with other kids regardless of race, gender or whatever differences they might have at first glance.

I’ve also learned that, for her, the best treat she can get at the end of a long week at school centers not so much on the three R’s, but on the five D’s -- a Daddy-Daughter Date at Dunkin’ Donuts.

As for me, I’ve learned that she and I really can get up at 5:45 a.m., every day during the week so she and I can walk to the bus stop in time. I’ve learned that, in her eyes, the morning is not complete without a few minutes of what she calls “snuggle time” with me before we make that walk.

I’ve also discovered that I enjoy being involved in her education beyond dropping her off at the bus stop in the mornings. For the moment, I’m the parent who’s available to attend school functions with her or pick her up when she’s not feeling well. I know it won’t always be like this, and I want my wife to be able to enjoy such things as soon as possible. But, I cherish the opportunity to make such memories with our little girl for now.

When this school year began, I knew kindergarten would open my child’s eyes to a whole new world of learning experiences. What I didn’t realize was how much I would learn from her along the way as well.

I can’t wait to see what first grade brings, for both of us.

Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.