WV started preschool at his new school last week. But before that, this preschool likes to ease your child into the first day of class. I understand easing. With an overactive, very spirited, tantruming, tornado of a three year old son, I have become very practiced at the art of the ease. (Wally, when we go to play with the neighbor, you can’t argue me when it’s time to go in. Wally, now that you’ve been playing with the neighbor for 5 minutes, I’d like to remind you that we will be going home at some point today. Wally, it is almost time to go, get ready for me to tell you that it will be time soon. Wally, we are going to go in five minutes. Wally, this is your mommy, telling you we are going. Now.) After writing that, I realize why occasionally he just stops listening to me. It’s annoying to say, and annoying to hear. However, it’s better than the alternative—surprising him with the fact that we have to leave and then peeling him out of the grass and dragging him kicking, screaming, and biting away while trying to say bye nicely in a normal tone to my new neighbor friends.

wally-preschoolAnyhow, the ease. The preschool, as part of the easing in process, has teachers visit the students at home for 10-15 minutes so students can meet the teachers in a familiar setting before the first day of school. I had ripe bananas and an inkling to get the teachers on Wally’s side, should he pull an “end of the world” tantrum on them ever. So Wally Ben and I made them chocolate chip banana bread muffins, which he is actually quite good at helping with. He poured it all, mixed it, sampled the chocolate chips, and watched them bake. The morning of the visit, he surveyed the wrapped up plates on the counter. He was ready.

The teachers rang the doorbell as I was trying to herd the dogs downstairs away from the visit area, so Wally ran to the door yelling, “I’ll get it!”  They are the nicest ladies on planet earth—we had met them when we were dropping off papers at the preschool the previous week. I wanted to go back to preschool so they could teach me. They were that nice. So he was excited to see them again.

He let them in and greeted them. He showed them into the living room where we would sit. They read him a little photo album book about school, and he paid close attention, interrupting once to tell them he had “If You Give a Pig a Party”, a book shown on one of the pages. Then they told him about a girl in his class, Caroline, who would be having a birthday the first week so they would be having cupcakes.

Caroline sounds like Clara to Wally, so he proceeded to list all of his cousins names, with about 50 “Umm, uh”s between each one. “I have four cousins, um uh, um uh, um uh, Grady, and um uh….” all the way to, “….and um uh um uh, Clara. And guess which one is the littlest?” His teacher graciously guessed, “Clara.” Wally did not tell her that she was right. He just changed the conversation to tell her which cousins were siblings, which took around 100 um uhs, because that is difficult syntax even for me. “Grady is Stella’s brother and Kellen is Clara’s brother” takes a lot of thought. He gave up, eventually and went with something like “…and Kellen goes with Clara.”

Then the teachers gave him a tote bag and explained it was his school bag, which all the kids would have. They explained we could decorate it (which we did later, with mustaches and robots, of course, see the photo above). He took it silently, slid off the couch, and walked out of the room. They looked at me, like, “What is happening?” and I looked back at them, like, “What is happening?” He then returned, plates of muffins in hand, and gave them to the teachers saying, “We made these for you.”

Preschool

As they were leaving, and the teachers were going on and on about how they had a feeling he was going to do great, he slipped out in front of them, said, “I’ll get it for you!” and held the screen door open for them. “What a gentleman!” they said.

And I thought, he fooled them! Don’t they realize that we made the muffins to make up for what was possibly going to happen?

Or maybe, just maybe, we are inching our way into that 4 year old horizon I’ve heard about—where the Terribles are left behind, or at least significantly reduced. A little less peeling out of the grass. A little less easing, even.

It’s these unexpected moments where your child catches you off guard that make being a parent interesting. You think you have this little person pegged—you made him, you live with him, and you practically create the world around him. And then, no thanks to you, he takes steps forward. He does things you didn’t tell him to do—and some of these things are good, better than you could have come up with! He leaps miles ahead of where you would have thought he could go, and he even takes a better route than you would have chosen for him. He very slowly leaves the grass tearing tantrums behind. He gives you a glimpse—don’t you see? He won’t be throwing himself face-first on the ground forever. You won’t be easing, annoying your own self forever. He will be making conversations with new adults. He will be presenting gifts and opening doors. He will be taking the lead, taking on the world. Here’s to growing up!