Getting Gritty and Getting Ready for Kindergarten    


Grit. I was listening to a podcast talking about grit as being a key factor in whether or not a child succeeds in life. Seems funny, right?

Aptitude, scholastic priming, and IQ all pale in comparison to your ability to tough it out, to be gritty. All the setbacks and challenges experienced during an academic career are just as useful as the actual subject matter that is taught. So, I began contemplating how to cultivate this particular quality in my children.

The next evening, Jane was with her grandparents and Michael insisted on wearing soft pants. I decided right then and there that it was time to draw a line in the sand; it was time to build some grit.

“No. You need to wear jeans or khakis, we are going out to dinner and you can’t go in soft pants. It’s not appropriate.”

“It is pro-pre-it,” he said and collapsed into a five-year old ball of half naked mush on the floor.

At a pause in the hysterics, I knelt down and calmly said, “Michael buddy, you need to figure this out all by yourself. You don’t have to wear these jeans, but you are not allowed to wear soft pants.” I walked out of the room and left him to puzzle and sob though the issue, hoping that by experiencing some measured frustration he’d develop some grit.

Well… half an hour later, no progress had been made. Wifey arrived home from work anticipating a relaxing one-child only, happy hour meal at Off the Hook. Michael was still wallowing in his quandary of clothing.

“I’m building grit,” I explained.

“Daddy won’t let me wear soft pants.”

“Not out to dinner, kiddo.”

Wifey examined the situation and said, “I think I see the problem. Michael, you’re getting to be a big boy, almost ready for kindergarten. It looks like most of your pants are getting pretty small.”


“I think you need bigger pants.”

“Yes Mommy, I do.”

“You would wear them if they were larger, wouldn’t you? Like next week when Daddy takes you to go see your elementary school, you don’t want to wear soft pants then?”

“Okay, Mommy.”

“This weekend we’ll buy some bigger pants at Tot to Tot. You sure do grow fast. Can you put on these khakis right now so we can have a nice sushi dinner?”

“Okay, Mommy.”

Problem solved, definitely.

Grit built, questionable.

The following week, Michael and I went to check out the school he’ll be attending in the fall. He wore his new collared shirt, jeans that were the right size, and made his hair into “Spike Awesome,” his favorite hairstyle. We received a gracious and insightful tour from the school’s Principal and observed a variety of kindergarten, first, and second grade classes. I think he was happy to make a good impression and he certainly was excited about his new school.

I was happy too. Kids worked in groups in one classroom, independently in another, and received direct-whole class instruction in a third. They seemed genuinely engaged and cooperative, while enjoying themselves. Our little school system here in South Lake Tahoe certainly has its act together.

“So what do you think, buddy? Are you ready for kindergarten?” I asked Michael once I shut the door to the car.


“What’s your favorite part?”

“I like the playground.”

I guess I should have predicted that. “How about in the classrooms, what did you like the most?”

“I liked all of it,” Michael said with a dramatic flare.

“How about one thing, specifically?”

“Well, they had really hard puzzles.”

“Those were some cool puzzles.”

“Yeah, I bet I can do those when I’m older.”

“I bet it takes a lot of grit to make it through those puzzles?”


“Yes, Michael.”

“What’s grit?”


Building Grit, Do:

  1. I’m not sure yet. Any suggestions?
  2. Try to help your children less and less.


Building Grit, Don’t:

  1. Forget to buy larger clothing.
  2. Give in sometimes.