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Challenge: Back to School

Preschool Prelude

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First days are always tough. I’ve had many first days of school over the years and they are always full of excitement, fear, promise, and trepidation. Now that my schooling is behind me, I’m starting over with my son’s first days and it two years ago with nursery school. We had already mastered saying goodbye, as I went back to work when he was 6-weeks-old. He was also in daycare before, so I knew he could socialize with peers and follow rules (or at least as much as a 17-month-old does). What worried me the most about the first day of nursery school was whether or not his teachers would understand him like I do. I knew once they figured out his quirks, they would see the amazing, sensitive, determined, and passionate little man that I knew. I just wished I could fast-forward to that point and save him the inevitable frustration that comes with not yet being able to verbally express oneself and being in a new environment.

In discussing our children, a friend and I sheepishly admitted to each other that when asked to describe our children (as nursery school applications required), we were afraid to write down the first adjectives that came to mind. Is “active” a positive way of saying “destructive?” she nervously laughed. We were embarrassed and fearful that the nursery schools would reject our applications based on our own descriptions of our toddler sons. What kind of moms were we? Of course we thought they were amazing, but on a daily basis it was their wild behavior, tantrums, picky eating, and messiness that bombarded our senses and sensibility. In order to help a new teacher see past these things and instead the boy I love, I offered up these tidbits of advice, proclamations of fact, and charges of encouragement.

  1. He’s a yes-man, but it is pronounced like a Swedish “Ja”
  2. When he raises an index finger toward the sky, he hears a plane or helicopter and will continue to point until you acknowledge it too
  3. He likes to hug stuffed animals with you—a plush ménage a trois
  4. He will teach you more about yourself than you will teach him
  5. He is going to tantrum and his head will find the nearest sharp corner when he throws it back
  6. When he is really happy, he scrunches his nose when he smiles
  7. His eyes sparkle, and not only because they are the blue of the Caribbean but because they are full of life
  8. He gets frustrated easily, but challenge him to persevere
  9. He can run ½ mile before pausing
  10. When in doubt, he wants milk.

This first day went well, but there will be so many other firsts to follow. I will continue to let him introduce himself to his teachers and allow them their own opinions, keeping my adjectives to myself.

[A version of this post was previously published at Mommy Call blog on 9/6/12]

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