Everyone tells you these early years will pass in a heartbeat, but when you’re snowed under with diapers and breastfeeding and separation anxiety and potty training, you don’t believe it. You can’t imagine a time when you won’t be overwhelmed by the needs of others, when you’ll actually long for sticky kisses and tiny hands clinging to your legs.
Today was JJ’s first real day of preschool. I think I’m in shock.
Most everyone we know started preschool last fall. For us, it really wasn’t meant to be. First we moved to a new town and didn’t want to further disrupt his life by starting school. Then The Peanut was born and JJ had a hard time adjusting. He wanted nothing more than to be a baby: “Carry me, Mommy! Babies can’t walk.” “I can’t use the potty, I’m a baby.” Prying him away from me would have required heavy machinery; preschool was out of the question.
In the spring, JJ decided he didn’t need to be a baby anymore. We found a great school with a slot open. JJ loved it. We loved it. The week before he was supposed to start, a giant mudslide closed the road between our house and the school. What was previously a 10-minute drive became a one-hour commute. Each way. Talk about the universe trying to send you a message.
So we decided to wait until summer. We enrolled JJ in a five-week program at the local cooperative nursery school. I had already decided that there was no way in hell I’d do a co-op for the school year, but I thought five weeks would be manageable. Besides, it was a program all about bugs, with which JJ is absolutely obsessed. How could we possibly pass that up?
The school turned out to be fabulous. We found The Peanut a great childcare situation for the one day a week I had to teach, and despite my concerns about her separation anxiety, she adjusted quickly. JJ had a fantastic time—and so did I. So did The Peanut, in fact.
When the road reopened, we briefly considered sending JJ to the first school, but the threat of future mudslides was too scary. Then two other schools we’d been waitlisted for suddenly had slots open up. I agonized for a week or so before deciding there was really only one choice.
So here I am, a co-op parent. We had our orientation meeting last night and I drove home in a daze. It’s going to be a shitload of work—work that includes fundraising, something I hate more than going to the dentist. But when JJ woke up at 6:00 this morning because he was too excited to sleep, I knew we’d made the right decision.
When The Peanut and I dropped him off at school, JJ ran straight to the play-doh table and struck up a conversation with a friend. I watched him for a few minutes and marveled at how confident and mature he seemed. When I went over to say good-bye, he was clearly surprised I was still there. “Oh! Bye, Mama.”
My sweet little boy, I can’t believe how grown up you are.