It’s your first day of kindergarten. How do you feel? A little nervous? A little excited? A little nerve-cited? Naturally, both of your parents want to drive you; neither would miss your first day of school. After all, it only happens once, so it should be as close to perfect as possible. No pressure there. Just be sure you don’t trip on your way to class… step on your teacher’s feet... cry when your parents leave–what would happen if you started crying? Everyone would laugh at you! You must not cry; crying is not even an option.
You arrive at the school and your parents search intently for a place to park. You can feel your heart racing. You’re here. This is happening. With the biggest building you’ve ever seen on your left and more tiny humans than you can count on your right, you start to feel a little intimidated and anxious. But you tell yourself, All will be well–I have a nice teacher, twenty-two possible friends, and a lifetime supply of Play-Doh, all waiting for me in my new classroom.
Your self pep-talk helped. Now all the excitement comes surging back into your little frame. A smile takes hold of your face as you think of all the fun times awaiting you in room 200.
A place to park surfaces, and your parents get out of the family minivan. You reach down for your “I Love Troy Bolton” backpack and hop out of the car, ready to take on the world. The two older versions of you smile down at your gleaming face. Each take hold of one of your hands as you head for the ginormous doors to the school. As you walk, you feel their approval pushing you further and further into the sureness that this will be a good day.
Much to your surprise, once you arrive inside, you are greeted by chaotic parents and children everywhere. Some parents are frantically searching for a familiar face, several kids are screaming in agony as they realize their parents don’t go to kindergarten with them, and a few other parents are tearing up at the thought of leaving their overly independent children. So, everyone probably wouldn’t laugh if I cried, you think to yourself.
You look up at your calm parents, feeling blessed and pleased with the ones you have. You soon reach room 200 where there are groups of parents and children in multiple spots around the room. Your teacher walks up to you and your mom and dad. You smile big at her, because she’s really nice. She speaks to your parents for a few moments and then returns your smile. Your parents turn with you and walk to your desk. Once they help you settle into your area and put your backpack in your cubby, they bend down to give you a kiss.
“Remember, be a good girl and help with a smile whenever you can,” mom says. After dad tells you how proud he is of you, they say a prayer over you. You hug them and they hug you. You tell them you love them and you’ll see them at the end of the day. Then they walk out of the room and you happily turn back to your desk.
Peering into your backpack, you smile down at all the back-to-school gadgets you picked out with pride. Suddenly this peaceful moment is interrupted by a whimper. Expecting to see another pitiful child in tears, you turn and see your teacher bent down next to a girl your age, but ever so much shorter, as she quietly cries. You gaze at the girl intently, trying to assess the situation, thinking, Why in the world is this girl so distraught? This place has a never-ending supply of Goldfish, a mini kitchen, and heaps of crayons, for crying out loud! What could be more perfect?!
Then you realize something: the girl is not accompanied by two bigger humans. She must miss her parents, you think to yourself. You look at your teacher as you shake your head, wondering how she couldn’t have put all the pieces together and fixed this problem yet.
Instantly, you decide this situation requires action on your part, and you start thinking of what you would want someone to do for you in a case such as this. You start to noisily go through your backpack, looking for anything cheery to bring this girl to your level of ease. You find a bookmark covered in big yellow smiley faces, and you remember eagerly picking it out on school-supply-shopping day. Maybe if I give this to her she will smile like all the faces in the picture, you ponder. The only problem is, you love that bookmark, and you know if you give it to her, you would never dream of asking for it back later. What if she needs it again? No, asking for it back isn’t an option.
As you start to put it back into your backpack, you hear your parents’ voices say, “…try to help with a smile whenever you can.” You can definitely try to help this girl. So, you slowly pull the bookmark back out. As you look it over once again, you tell yourself: It’s okay. I have plenty of bookmarks. And if this smiling bookmark can help this girl feel better, it’s worth losing it.
The smile you now wear is anything but forced. As you stand up and start to walk over to the little girl and your wearied teacher, you feel like a martyr. You gallantly take the little girl’s hand and show her your once coveted bookmark. You lean down to her (because she’s very small) and tell her that maybe when she feels sad, she can look at the smiley faces and try to smile like them.
She takes the bookmark from your hand and smiles big up at you. Then she turns to her chair, puts the bookmark next to her name tag, and sits down cheerfully in her seat. Your teacher looks down at you smiling, whispers a thank-you, and walks to her desk.
You sit down in your seat, with a smile the size of Texas. You can’t wait to get home to tell your parents how you “helped with a smile.”