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The First Day of Kindergarten: Nicolas Does It His Way

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The first day of kindergarten – one of childhood’s biggest milestones – is both exciting and overwhelming for parents and kids alike. This week, we asked some parents from our J&J employee family to write about this very special moment – the good, the bad and the scary. If you’ve got a child who is ready for kindergarten, this series will hit close to home!

If you ask Nicolas how old he is, he’ll say “I’m five… uh, maybe six.” He’s four. When his older brother and sister correct him, which older brothers and sisters are apt to do, he’ll say in a matter-of-fact tone, “I’m going to Five School now” (a.k.a. kindergarten).

For nearly four years, Nicolas enjoyed the coveted “baby of the family” position until the arrival of his little brother last summer. But even before our latest addition, Nicolas was never really “the baby.” In order to keep up with his older siblings, he always acted like a big boy. However, with his irrational fear of bears (don’t ask!) and his need to hold my face to fall asleep (totally weird, but we just go with it), we’re always reminded that he still is every bit a little kid.

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Lately, (as he squeezes my face) I’ve been wondering what it must be like to be the middle kid. He’ll never be the first or the last of our children to reach a milestone. Everything he has is shared. Even his place in our family as the middle child isn’t entirely his. And yet, everything Nicolas does is completely and totally Nicolas.

Nicolas is a charming contrarian. There really is no better way to describe him. He asserts his personality through disagreement – usually over inconsequential stuff. And just when you’re about to become totally flabbergasted (Nic! I’m telling you elephants DO HAVE TRUNKS!), he’ll flash you one of his classic mischievous and magnetic grins, as if getting your dander up was his goal all along. The minute that smile creeps across his face, you’re disarmed. You’ve been played… by a four-year-old.

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So now our charming contrarian is getting ready for the first day of kindergarten, a milestone that he will make all his own. He will, no doubt, exacerbate and delight his teachers. He’ll learn to read, navigate the intricacies of playground etiquette and over time grow into the man he is destined to become. All the while, his father and I have the privilege of watching his beautiful life unfold, helping him navigate through it where we can.

I’m coming to learn life isn’t so much when you start or finish the race, but how you run it. Nicolas won’t be the first or the last of our children to experience the first day of kindergarten or go to prom or even go off to college, but he will do it in a way that only he can. In the meantime, we’ll keep the bears at bay and I’ll continue to let him hold onto my face until he no longer feels he needs to.

Anna Acquaviva works part-time as a Manager of Strategic Communications for one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four young children.

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