Sunday, September 2, 2007

'til Ben Came Home From Kindergarten

So, as I send #4 out the door to kindergarten, I have to ask myself...just HOW did this HAPPEN? I don't *think* it's been that long since this little beastie was just a lovely, dreamy anticipation of a new family member. And yet, here he is, all sort of growed up and riding a bus. And so serious, too. When he came home that first day, his observations were quite telling, I thought...

Mommy: How was your VERY first day of school, honey?
Ben: Mommy, I think I will like school. But the question IS... (side note: this is our current fave phrase--'but the question IS...')
Mommy: Yes?
Ben: Why does my teacher have to call me Ben B.?
Mommy: EXCELLENT there another Ben in your class?
Ben: Weeeelllll. Yes, but he is NOT me. And she calls him Ben S. I don't like that. And I AM NOT Ben B. I am just Ben. Can you tell her that, please?

Now, being a Mommy of action, I got to thinking and wondering how I should handle this request from my very earnest little man.

First off, there are FOUR kindergarten classes at Ben's school. Are there REALLY 5 Bens? No, seriously. In our years here in our little-ish town, we have encountered no other Bens his age. But suddenly there are 5? Because it only stands to reason that if one were composing kindergarten classes, one would ONLY double up on names if there were no way to avoid it, right? RIGHT??? And then I realized that this kind of logic must somehow NOT apply to schools, because Ben's big brother is one of two Matthews in HIS grade...and they have ALWAYS been in the same class. This year, too.

Secondly, I realized how funny his little world must seem right now. To him, he IS Ben. The essence of Ben-ness. The one, the only BEN. So, to be suddenly both one of two and not just Ben, but Ben B. YIKES! What a stunning realization to be forced to at a mere 5 years of age.

Third, Ben also had the shock of his life when his best friend's name was called for attendance, he turned and the boy raising his hand was not HIS Zack. Nope. There's a Zack in his class, but it's not his friend Zack. Silly mommy suggested that he befriend the "new Zack" which point I was gently informed that he cannot be friends with "just ANY Zack" and that he would have to "take steps to find MY Zack."

What struck me with such force, too, was what an impact this seemingly little thing had on my little guy. Something we grown-ups take for granted and laugh at over dinners...this sharing of names, of knowing someone with the same name, making friends who share names. Finding ourselves describing a friend as "Karyn from church" vs. "Caron from the gym". Don't you take that small world truth as a given? I know that I did...'til Ben came home from kindergarten.

What a quick immersion into the bizarre truth that, while a good name is worth gold, it certainly doesn't define what makes us unique or special.

So...what makes YOU special and different from the other folks out there who share your name? I certainly don't know the answer to that one...seems I've got more questions than answers tonight...but here's a start:

"God made you special, and He loves you VERY much," to quote my beloved Veggie Tales.

I think I'll give the school a call...not to complain or ask them to change anything for this year...but rather to give them some of Ben's food for thought.