Why did it take having a conversation with a neighbor to realize that I should teach my son to be a leader?

I was struck by curiosity when the Rookie started school. I wondered how he would react and handle himself in a new environment surrounded by new friends. Part of me had a bit of confidence going into it that I taught him something over the last five years and that he was going to be the star student that all the teachers wanted. As quickly as those dreams came, they vanished by the second week of school. He wasn’t the leader I thought he would be.

An email comes in from his teacher explaining that our 5-year-old has been hitting kids with his lunch box in the lunch room. The teacher told us this is pretty standard for kindergartens to do as they are now getting to take their lunches to school for the first time and that a lunch box is something new to them. Part of me was wondering why our rising star would do such a thing. He should know better.

A stern talking to ensued along with taking away TV time for a few days, along with his lunch box.


Later that week, another email from the Rookie’s teacher. She explained that he is very smart, which we knew and thought that he might end up getting bored according to some of the curriculum, to no fault of the teacher. As the email went on, she said that he has a lot of energy, which again, we already knew. She asked us what his previous pre-school teachers did to calm him down. I knew what this meant, and it was one of my greatest fears, he was the trouble maker in class.

The next few weeks I did what I normally do, I internalized the situation and started to think about what I could do to improve the situation. It didn’t seem enough that we were just taking TV away anymore. The Rookie had started to feel already punished because once Kindergarten started, we had reduced his screentime by 30 minutes a day. Was it the fact that I am unable to keep up with him and his energy level? Was it that I have high expectations for both him and Rookie #2?

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with one of my neighbors who has a child a grade above the Rookie that I found a possible solution to the troublemaker that we have.

It’s time to be a leader!

Why wasn’t I teaching the Rookie to be a leader? I should have been teaching him all along to be the student that other students look up to. He should want to be a kid that all the other children go home, tell their parents about, and want to be.

Not necessarily a brown-noser, because there was a point during my school years that I was that way, and made fun of. But more of a student who does his work, does it well, and is a good caring friend. In the end, those two things will get him farther in life than sucking up to his Kindergarten teacher, or any of his future teachers.

Understanding that he is in Kindergarten and every time I bring up him being a leader in class, probably goes in one ear and out the other. He doesn’t quite understand the qualities it takes to be a leader, in particular among the complex political system that is 5-year-olds. That is where, like his father, I have to be able to instill in him what it means to be a leader.

I need to be able to convey to him that doing his work, listening, talking when asked, doing what is right, and standing up for the injustices that are in a Kindergarten classroom (exception of homework) are all the qualities that not only make a good friend but make a good leader. A leader that kids will want to be friends with look up to and want to be like.

Why didn’t this occur to me in the first place? Why did it take having a conversation with a neighbor to realize that I should teach my son to be a leader?

Maybe a good quality in a leader is taking the advice of others and making it a reality. Maybe I need to be the leader that I want my son to be.

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