The Benefits of Being Held Back

In August of 1979, I turned five.

My parents could have sent me to kindergarten that fall.  Instead, they opted to hold me back and send me in 1980 when was six.

Looking back at my life, this has proven to be the greatest decision they ever made for me, as it has been one that benefitted me time after time after time.  How, you ask?

Well, off the top of my head (and in no particular order), starting kindergarten a year later…

  • Made me one of the oldest kids in my class instead of one of the youngest.
  • Meant that I was one of the bigger kids in my class (which probably saved me from being beat up once or twice).
  • I was one of the smarter kids in my class.  And while I’d like to say it is because of my brilliant mind, I think having spent the extra year at home watching Sesame Street and other PBS shows didn’t hurt my cause.
  • Kept me from being a social outcast in high school.  The class ahead of me had a lot of jocks and I am decidedly NOT a jock*.  My class had some athletes, but many of the activities I was involved in (One Act play, swing choir, etc.) were more widely accepted by my class.

*Depending on who you ask, my greatest athletic achievement has been one of the following a) blocking a PAT to help win the 1993 Sarpy County Shootout football game, b) the 3rd place ribbon I received in the softball toss at the 1981 Gretna Elementary track and field day, or c) writing about Nebraska football for

  • It created a three grade gap between me and my older sister (I was a freshman when she was a senior), which meant we could peacefully co-exist in a small town school.
  • One of my best friends in high school would have been three grades younger than me, instead of two which meant we probably would not have hung out.
  • It meant that I could legally drive as a sophomore, instead of as a junior – a big deal in high school.
  • It meant that I could legally drink as a college junior, instead of as a senior – a big deal in college.
  • If my freshman year at Nebraska was in 1992, I likely do not meet the amazing group of guys in my dorm and the larger circle of friends that I met through them.   These friends have enriched my life in so many ways that I can’t begin to list them all*

*On second thought, I can begin to list them.  I can (and should) begin the list by pointing out that the friend who introduced me to my wife was initially friends with one of my college buddies before we started hanging out.  Also, one of the people who first talked to us about adoption was somebody I knew from a freshman English class at UNL.  There are hundreds of other examples…

  • Allowed me to be at the University of Nebraska (with cheap season tickets) during the greatest run in college football history:  60-3, with three National Championships.  If I go to school at age 5, my college freshman year ends with Byron Bennett’s missed field goal, and I’m out of school (and likely without tickets) for Tom Osborne’s final season.  You may scoff at this, but it was an amazing time to be on campus.
  • Heck, using only the power of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” logic, I could probably connect all of the good and/or lucky things to ever happen to me back to my mom and dad holding me back a year.

But the biggest reason I am glad my parents held me back:

  • My 20th High School Reunion was not last weekend – its next year.

What do you think?

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