Another Monday has arrived and I was just sitting here thinking about how my kids did on their math NWEA tests today. After saying a quick prayer to the Lord Almighty, I pondered many things. Did they get enough sleep? Will they take their time or rush through the test and not show their genius ability? If they don’t score high enough will Harvard reject them? What if they don’t get that job at Apple now because they bombed the damn NWEA! They are already 6, 9, and 12! Shoot!! I knew I shouldn’t have let them stay up late and watch the Super Bowl! OMG! As I pondered these things, my mind went back to a long, long, long time ago. Buried deep in my brain I still remember my first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. I didn’t have any preschool experience. My only experience was hanging out with mom. Living real life experiences. Coloring, making snowmen, playing hide and seek. The occasional episode of Sesame Street would show me a little bit about the letters of the alphabet. I remember “C is for Cookie..thats good enough for me”, and it WAS good enough for me. I would be starting kindergarten soon. There they would teach me all about ABC’s and 123’s. I was just a small thing with only a few years of life on this earth under my belt. My first day came and I was scared. I ran around the house crying and screaming and vividly remembering hiding behind the couch. There was NO WAY I was leaving my mom and going to some awful school. But my parents caught me and dragged me kicking and screaming into my classroom on my first day. I remember my teacher had very kind eyes and a soft voice. She looked at me and asked me my name, in tears I told her that I didn’t want to be there. Sympathetically she looked at my parents and told them it would be best if they left and that I would be ok. They did and I was. My teacher scooped me up on her lap and made me laugh, told me how fun school was going to be and how I had so much to look forward to. And she was right. Those days, Kindergarten was a mere 3 hours that included nap time, snack time, circle time and some ABC’s and 123’s. Then we were shuffled home to our waiting parents who wanted to hear all about our day. Ahhh. Those were the days (cue the Bunker’s). Now as I raise my own 3 very different children, I wonder why school has changed so much since then? Half days don’t exist anymore, its full on 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Before Kindergarten kids are expected to know ABC’s, 123’s and sit still for hours on end, not to mention taking a standardized test that defines if they are successful or not. If standardized testing measures how good we are, or how smart we are then I could’ve kissed my nursing career goodbye. Although I went through a very fast paced, rigorous nursing program that required a 3.0 or better in each class or it was bye-bye for you, I still struggled with my licensing test. Not because I didn’t know the answers. It was the pressure, anxiety, anticipation and the need to get out of there as quick as possible that made standardized tests so difficult for me. Thankfully, the Board of Nursing recognizes that and believes in second chances. Why don’t elementary schools? Why are kids put to such a higher standard now. Why is Kindergarten the new first grade and on and on. If they can’t sit still at 6 years old then it must have ADHD, if they aren’t social and don’t make eye contact well then they must be Autistic. But if they are very smart, well they are also on the spectrum, just the other end. They are “high functioning”. If they don’t behave they have oppositional defiant disorder, if they can’t read at grade level then they are developmentally delayed. Why all of the labels? I am glad that medicine has advanced in such a way that kids who TRULY need help will get it, but we need not label every child unless its truly warranted. If it is warranted then we are blessed with resources that can help those children and that is something to be very thankful for. But tread lightly because every child most likely will not need a diagnosis. And I don’t say this lightly because I have personal experience with my own children and getting a correct diagnosis on issues that I take very seriously and the school has been a tremendous resource. However, some kids are just acting like dare I say kids?? When my boys get home they have 3 hours. 3 HOURS, to get their homework done, eat their dinner, take a bath and try to have some time to be a kid. Heaven forbid they have any extracurricular activities that they enjoy. I don’t blame teachers, in fact just the opposite. There are so many teachers and educators near and dear to my heart and they are amazing at what they do. They are just doing their job and they also have the pressure packed on from those above them. It’s a job for saints, saints that don’t get the appreciation or the thanks that they deserve. I guarantee they would rather spend their evenings enjoying their family instead of grading papers for a classroom of 2nd graders. Now as I sit here, I notice the time and realize in just a few short minutes the rest of my brood will be home and its go time. A mad dash until bedtime and I want to cry for them, tell them they are good enough, apologize that I can’t let them have one more hour to stay up and play, and brace them for another day of the same. I don’t know what their generation will be like as adults. Will this pressure to learn more, faster, better, quicker with medications and labels to help them be the perfect kid make them better adults? I doubt it. They will be who they will be. And I will tell them every day they are perfect the way they are and no test will tell them otherwise. So for now, all I can do is put down all of my expectations during the free time that they have and be present and childish and loving because this is all they have left. Let the count down to summer break begin! And to educators everyone, THANK YOU! I know you wish there was still nap time!