1,000 Things To Do Before Kindergarten

Every time I stop in at a bookstore, I’m drawn to the shelf where they keep that book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” I’ve paged through it quite a few times – it’s a pretty awesome travel guide – and I’ve wanted to buy it. But I can’t. The title is just too morbid for me. I can’t get past it. They might as well add the caps, extra exclamation points and spooky vampire laugh: “1,000 Place to See Before YOU DIE, MOO-HOO-HA-HA!!!”

Why couldn’t they go with something a little softer? Maybe “1,000 Places to See Before You’re Completely Bald,” or “1,000 Places to See Before Your Ungrateful Children Put You In a Home.” I would happily buy a book with one of those titles.

And if the publishers really insisted on a reference to death, they could at least try a euphemism. How about “1,000 Places to See Before Your Lunch Date with Babe Ruth, Genghis Khan and Jerry Garcia?” Or, “1,000 Places to See Before They Sell All Your Stuff Crazy Cheap at an Estate Sale?” Those titles wouldn’t weird me out too much.

Apparently, I’m the only one who feels this way, though. The book has been a national bestseller and has spawned copycat lists of all kinds on the Internet. People love to talk about what they’d like to see or do before THEY DIE, MOO-HOO-HA-HA!!!

One toned-down variation on this theme recently caught my eye. It’s a list called “100 Things to Do Before Kindergarten.” Now, I could handle that.

My son will be entering kindergarten in the fall, and like any good (slightly neurotic) parent, I just had to compare his life experiences to the list to see which of the 100 things he has and has not done yet. After all, we still have the summer to cram in those experiences.

As it turns out, the list is pretty innocuous. I breathed a tongue-in-cheek sigh of relief (believe me, that’s hard to do) knowing that he could check off 92 of the 100 items. Yes, he’s blown bubbles, made a snowman and carved a pumpkin. No, he’s never helped wash the dishes (we have a dishwasher) or caught a frog (they’re too fast and slippery) or accomplished six other totally random and really-not-that-important things they listed.

So, my son is good to go. He’s ready. But what about me? What do I still need to do before he goes to kindergarten? I came up with my own list. See what you think.

1. Stop calling my wife “Mommy” in public. I never thought I’d be that guy, but it’s happened. Calling your wife “Mommy” at home in front of the kids is natural. “Mommy, the boys would like to go to the park.” That’s a perfectly acceptable thing to say at home. Calling her “Mommy” at a restaurant while the kids are home with a babysitter – “So, Mommy, how was work today?” – well, that’s just plain wrong. Someone slap me upside the head, please. I have to break that habit.

2. Train my eyes to not cry (or buy a pair of nice, dark sunglasses). A few years back, when my older son was just a baby, I remember seeing a group of parents waiting with their children for the bus on the first day of school. A couple of the moms were sobbing. I shook my head in superiority and wondered, “What a bunch of losers. Why the heck are they crying?” Now I know exactly why. My little boy is starting school, and he’ll be 6 by the end of kindergarten. That’s only 10 years from 16, and then he’ll start driving. Then, he’ll be going to college, then he’ll get married and he’ll be all grown up and living who knows where, and he’ll be too big for hugs and kisses and tickles and cuddling. NOOOOO!!! Great, I’m starting to cry now.

3. Make up an awesome super alias. My son’s new-friends-to-be probably won’t be very impressed that I’m a stay-at-home dad. So, I think I need to come up with an awesome alias – something mysterious that can’t be easily disproved. Maybe I’m a race car driver in the up-and-coming Eurasian racing circuit. Or I’m the drummer for promising pop star, Hannah Wyoming. Or maybe I’m the inventor of text messaging and wireless technology and iPods and a bunch of other cool stuff that will be coming out pretty soon.

4. Learn ancient PB&J origami techniques. My son will be the king of the lunchroom if his old man can learn to make some astounding peanut butter and jelly sandwich creations. How about the Swooping Crane with strawberry jam and the Contemplative Grasshopper with mint jelly? Mmm. Delicious.

5. Write a 700-page Great American Novel. I figured that as a stay-at-home dad with tons of free time, I would have been able to produce a brilliant work of literature before my oldest boy entered kindergarten. Sadly, I have not. So, in the next 60 days, look out … masterpiece on its way.

Now if I can just work on these five things, I’ll be ready for kindergarten, too.

Brian Kantz ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every single day from kindergarten through his senior year of high school. Every day. No joke. Visit Brian online at www.briankantz.com or drop him a note at thenewbiedad@yahoo.com.