Singledadventures: When My Daughter’s Kindergarten Project Became Complicated

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Chad Milner and Cydney

Chad Milner and Cydney

My daughter ran out of the classroom elated on her first day of kindergarten. After reintroducing me, Cydney’s teacher said with a smile “Cydney is very funny! She has a lot of personality. I’m going to have to stay on my toes with this one!” My mother and I both laughed because we knew what this educator was in for. With a smile and friendly chuckle, I responded “That sounds about right.”

That night, the parents of the kindergarten class were given a homework assignment. Cydney’s instructor wanted to get to know about her new students, to further understand and know how to cater to them. I made my little girl a part of the process, asking her how she would like to possibly answer some of these inquiries, such as: “What are some her favorite things to do?”

The last question asked if there is anything about my child that she, as a teacher, should be made aware of. Of course, I had to explain about my daughter’s mother passing away from cancer and that, depending on Cydney’s temperament, she may respond one of many ways and you’ll never know what will trigger it.

To begin this important time in the kids’ lives, Cydney’s teacher assigned a kindergarten project in which all of the students bring in pictures of their families while the rest of the class draw pictures of the stimuli standing in front of them. Of course, I added a photograph of my daughter and her mother. However, I knew there could or would be questions from her classmates.

While some may or may not have fathers in their lives, it is very difficult for a five-year-old to comprehend the concept of a child not having their mother. Kids have their mommies and Cydney Milner is always the one child who doesn’t. It’s a tough paradigm, but that is her reality and the only one she has ever known.

This past Friday was Cydney’s day to be the Star Student and present her family to her class. I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure of exactly what would happen that day. There wasn’t time to pull Cyd’s teacher aside, but I knew she was great teacher, so I didn’t (and couldn’t) fret.

When I picked my daughter up from school that afternoon, the teacher informed me that she wanted to speak to me for a moment. On a typical day, I would ask myself, “What did my child say to someone today?” but I knew she wanted to talk about the project handed in this morning.

The teacher let me know that exactly what I felt would happen, did. She wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the situation–Cydney not having a mother and talking about it in from of the class–and wanted to make sure that I was alright with how everything was handled. Telling me that she was a person of faith and wasn’t sure if Cydney and I were as well, she gave me a “temperature check.” When a child asked where my daughter’s mother is, Cyd confidently answered: “She’s not here.” I didn’t coach her on how to answer the question, she just knew what to say.

A follow-up question came along from the class, something along the lines of, “What do you mean?” and the teacher jumped in, saying, “She’s in heaven and is an angel watching over you, Cydney.” I was more than pleased with how everyone handled this.

She’s a veteran teacher and was highly-recommended by everyone. That’s why I wanted my daughter to have this teacher. We conversed for a moment and both agreed that this is difficult for little children to wrap their heads around, even if they know that people die and someone in their families has transitioned. I told the teacher that we have had a few instances like this in Pre-K, in which children that have known Cydney for years would still ask her, “Where is your mommy?” at birthday parties, because they simply forgot.

At five-and-a-half-years-old, my daughter has awareness beyond her age that seems like she’s lived on earth before. The truth is that some of her experiences have forced her cognitive development to be a little accelerated. Yet, in many other ways, she is just a regular kid who does and sees the world like all of the other kids her age. I often let her know that her circumstances are why she’s a star. My star.

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