Dear Daughter, This Giant Game of Checkers Taught You Everything You’ll Need to Know About Starting School…

We went into town for Tuesday night live music. You wanted to hear trumpets. I said I’m sure we’ll find some. It was sweaty as hell. Still about 85 degrees at 8pm. We brought six juice pouches because you thought the musicians playing around town would like them.

“We could give them to the musicians! Wouldn’t that be nice?!”

Yes, that would be nice. But instead we spent two hours playing giant checkers with a bunch of new kids and their parents. No work and no school and no anything to rush home for.

It was one of those nights where everyone was just friendly. Friendly smiles and  friendly exchanges of small talk while the kids all worked together on this giant game board.

Mostly they were just interested in building a tower. In fact, that’s all they wanted to do. Stack it up and let it fall. The laughter was endless. They worked together. They handed off the pieces to taller kids and then got some parents to help. Toddlers even appeared on father’s shoulders with checkers to add to the tippy top. Then we’d all cheer and the toddlers would do that self satisfied clap toddlers do.


In the beginning, not all of the kids were playing nicely. Some were a little too rough with the hard plastic checkers, throwing them and kicking them away from the board. Those kids were eventually shunned by the masses as they eventually shuffled away. But with minimal intervention by the surrounding parents, we watched as our kids figured it all out. They figured out how to play and how to problem solve. They figured out who they wanted to team up with and who it was best to avoid.


They echoed our words we drill into their little heads. You could just hear those adult mantras being shouted at each other.

“Just do your best!”

“Watch out for the little kids!”

And when they each eventually fell onto the checkerboard, they reached out helping hands to pull each other up. It was  really quite a little team they built. Build it up and watch it fall. And when their tower collapsed before it was complete, they laughed it off. And simply built it again.

Miriam will be starting kindergarten next week. There will be kids who won’t want to play with her. And there will be plenty who will. There will be games that are tricky and frustrating. I hope “just do your best” will always be what she tells herself.

She will be entering the microcosm of kindergarten with her new backpack. Her last one from pre-k has holes in the bottom from dragging it along the parking lot. Because it was sooooooo heavy. We all know how heavy three pieces of paper can be.


Her new backpack is pink and furry and she screamed “this is SOOOO cool!!!” when she put it on. And I can’t wait to pull all those arts and crafts treasures out of it every night. I’m more than a little jealous. We got it from a ‘tween girl’s (and immature fifty-year-old woman) dream website called iscream-shop.

And to match Daddy’s addiction to sleep masks, she picked out a matching sleep mask as well.


And along with the practical items, she picked out the latest in zen-like relaxation. The color-changing sequined letter “M” pillow is what she holds and strokes as we still read Dr. Seuss in these fleeting moments of childhood. The sequins change colors as she runs her little hand across it and back again. It calms her mind and body down.


Because lady, it’s about to get a little intense. Wonderfully intense. Kinda like that giant checkerboard. But you’ll figure it all out. We’ll figure it all out together as we play this giant game.

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