It’s kindergarten. Not college, you chide.

Beginning next fall, my son will make the trek four blocks to our neighborhood school for about three hours, five days a week. I’m proud and apprehensive about his next step toward independence. Some parents get all worked up about academics and kindergarten as the new first grade, yadda yadda. Me? Not so much. He’s a smart kid, and he’ll learn his reading, writing and arithmetic. We have good schools in our town, and I’m an involved parent. It’s relatively cut and dried.

But something shakes me Mean kids. Lord help me when it’s my daughter’s turn, because I’m already cringing just thinking about how mean kids can be.

My husband and I have always taught our son to be a good friend to everyone, and if someone isn’t being a good friend in return, to play with someone else. But how do you instill a deep sense of self confidence and personal strength? A sense that you get to choose whose opinions matter, and if a kid tells you your coat is ugly/your favorite book is for babies/you’re not good enough to play soccer, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you’re a good friend. You appreciate who and what makes you happy. What matters is how you’ll decide to define your own success. How you’ll make the most of what you’ve got. You may never be the best at something — and certainly will never be the best at everything — but you can always do your best. And you’re loved more than you’ll ever comprehend.

Excuse me while I put down my pompoms and/or Kleenex. ;)

It’s obvious to me that this soul shaking stems from my own struggle to find self confidence. I have my moments of peace, but I’m much better at worrying about and doubting the person I am.

So this is a big part of life. And life isn’t easy. Or fair, for that matter. But how do you convey that to a 4 (and three quarters)-year-old kid? Who happens to be my baby: a big guy who loves all things manly and construction, but has a gentle heart and will cry if he meets our disapproval.

Did I mention parenting is hard?