Pieces of Formation: Significant Conversations


I learned to read when I was 3 years old.

And not just the rudimentary kind of reading. My mother tells the story that I asked my preschool teacher if I could read a particular book to the class and she — mistakenly — thought I wanted her to read it. When she eventually understood I wanted to read it myself, she thought I had simply memorized it. She was then amazed to discover I could read any book she pulled off the shelf. 

When it came time for kindergarten two years later, my parents wondered: Did I really need to go? So I took a test to determine if I could skip kindergarten and go straight into first grade. 

I remember the day of decision so clearly.

My mother came home from work, and I was playing in the garage. The light shone through the open garage door as she crouched next to me where I played. They’d gotten the results from the test, she said, and I had passed. What did I want to do? 

It took me aback to learn the decision was to be my own.

And so I asked questions. What would I miss if I didn’t go to kindergarten? Fingerpainting. Some fun. And learning to read. But I already know how to read. Yes, my mother said. What would happen if I went to first grade? I’d learn new things, she said. But I would be a year younger than everyone else, and that would be true throughout the rest of my life at school. 

It was a significant conversation.

I learned that my parents entrusted me with major decisions that affected my life. At 5 years old, that was quite something to take in. What trust and respect they had for me and my life. But it was a little scary, too. What did I know at 5 years old would be best for me? What if I chose “wrong”? 

In case you’re curious, I decided to skip kindergarten, and I’ve never once regretted that decision. But I think of that day often — how significant it was to my life. I carried that “younger by a year” decision with me throughout my school career. It was always there, underneath the surface, my being just behind my peers in age, development, and experiences.

What significant conversations of your upbringing shaped your life? What did those conversations teach you about yourself and about others?