Abigail started preschool this year. All children’s milestones are so obviously learning experiences for the adults in their lives, too, that it’s the height of hubris to assume otherwise. Things that preschool has taught us thus far:
1) Our kid is not a morning person. She’s many things, but she damn near hisses in anger at the mere hint of sunlight. Considering that she’s been the solidest of sleepers for years now, this should not have come as a surprise, but her petulant (read: normal toddler) whining knocked us for a loop. What do you MEAN you don’t want to go to school? What do you MEAN “None! None! Nothing! No!” Who ARE you?
The way AG yells “None! None!” et. al., by the way, sounds somewhat German to me, but that may be my own internalization of some unfair cultural stereotypes combined with how she accentuates her letters right now.
2) We are not as effortlessly aligned on How To Handle Things as we thought. Drop off was a nightmare the first couple of weeks. You’d have thought we were dumping her on a street corner with a bindle and a quarter the screaming was so intense. And knowing that her reaction is normal and divorcing it from how you’re feeling as it’s happening is a feat for Buddhists. We didn’t so much react as we did come unprepared for her to meltdown. Again, see hubris.
On the apex of the meltdowns, we ended up being the parents who were still coaxing our kid into the sing-a-long portion of the morning, some 30 minutes into the start of the school day. This was all because Scott and I disagreed on how to handle the meltdowns. Once we agreed how to handle things, the drop offs were not necessarily made less gut-cringing, but they also weren’t peppered with the subsequent Drive of Silence downtown.
3) We are adults. Nothings expedites the aging process faster than waking up and realizing your car is outfitted with a school magnet on its hind quarters. You’d have thought having a baby and a mortgage would have accomplished this nicely, but no. Perhaps it’s because there is a certain routine and order that comes into your life once school is introduced into it. The lunches, the projects that are due, the added phone call you make when your kid is sick…that magnet says to the world that your life, too, is beholden to the educational system in a whole new manner than what you once were familiar.
4) We are doing OK. I literally have no idea where my kid falls on the spectrum of things. The nice thing about living on the south side of Chicago is that the Keeping Up With the Jonses thing is practically non-existent. I know she’s articulate, and that she curious, and developmentally speaking, she’s where she needs to be. But we’re delightfully unaware of how she measures up against other three-year-olds, which is how we like it. Still, there are moments where I catch myself wondering whether we should be doing certain things with her, or if we’re not paying close enough attention (I swear, it took us three weeks to wrap up the sundry items she still needed for school, things her teachers kept reminding us we needed to get for her). But then we sit down and have dinner together and she starts to recite the prayer-before-meals she learned at school, and how thankful she is for our family, and I remember that if our ultimate quest is to Not Raise An Asshole, AG showing gratitude as we break bread is a good indicator that we’re off to a good start.