By Catherine Naja of Choking On Applesauce
2016 will be a big year for area 12-year-old Dustin Landerson, whose parents finally decided he is ready to enroll in public kindergarten.
After participating in — and, by his mother’s estimation, “rocking” — nearly a decade’s worth of preschool, Landerson will make the leap to a neighborhood elementary school for the first time next fall. The private, play-based nursery school he’s attended the past several years, Kinder Academy, has gone on record to emphasize he is well-versed in his ABCs and can count past 200, and he is really ready to move on.
“He doesn’t even fit on the slide,” said the school’s teaching assistant, Debbie Flowers. “It’s just getting weird.”
When asked why they’ve decided to keep him in preschool for so long, nearly eight years longer than most, Landerson’s mother Margaret insisted she is setting him up for professional and personal success later in life.
She explained that someone in her exclusive, invite-only Facebook mom group indicated as many as 98% of corporate CEOs were the oldest members of their kindergarten classes. According to her informal polls, there seems to be a growing trend among parents to hold their kids back as long as possible in the hopes of bolstering academic superiority and emotional maturity when compared to their peers.
“And he’ll be WAY AHEAD of those dippy 5-year-olds he’ll be slinging Play-Doh with,” she added. “This pretty much secures his spot as valedictorian, which means a shot at the Ivy Leagues and a well-paying job. How else will he achieve true happiness?”
Landerson’s potential future in sports also played a role in their decision to delay his entrance to kindergarten. Noting he is approximately a foot and a half taller than his classmates and his voice is about an octave lower, Dustin’s father Blake said he is eager to relive his glory days on the high school football team in a few years – vicariously through his 24-year-old son.
If all goes according to plan, Dustin will be the school’s first football player old enough to take the coach out for a beer after Friday night games. Incidentally, he will also be the first 6th grader legally old enough to date the cheerleading coach. “GO BLUE!” he added.
Responding to criticism that Dustin wouldn’t be adequately challenged in his current setting, Margaret simply gestured over to her gangly, prepubescent son, who was grappling with a glob of paste that had gotten stuck in the peach fuzz unceremoniously sprouting from his chin.
“Kindergarten is the new 8th grade pre-calc,” she said. “I heard they cancel recess now if the kids can’t finish a convincing analytical essay on Salinger within the allotted 45 minutes.”
When asked what he was most looking forward to in the transition to a more mature school, Landerson said he was eager to have access to bathrooms with “regular-sized toilets.”
A representative from Landerson’s school district declined to comment, except for a drawn-out sigh as her head dropped to her desk.
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About the Author
Catherine Naja is a former journalist and the mother of three children under age five. In addition to being the voice behind Choking On Applesauce, her writing has also been featured on the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and others. Find her on Facebook for more.