A day of firsts

He started preschool yesterday. Somehow, just a little more than three years after he arrived on the planet, he was old enough to be able to go off to school. I still don’t get how that math works.
He had been talking about it for months. Nonstop, really, ever since we attended an open house back in the spring. He talked so much about when “pwe-school” began that I drew him a big paper countdown calendar. Every day, he got to put a school-themed sticker on the date, and we looked to see how many days remained. Like everything in this life, it went by too quickly.
Before I knew it, I was enlisting Darling Husband to slather chalkboard paint on the glass of an old frame (making a “first day of school” sign we can use for years). I was carefully writing out nine tuition cheques, messing up on every second one because, really, WHO WRITES CHEQUES ANYMORE? I was labeling weeks’ worth of juiceboxes to keep in the fridge, so he had something to excitedly pack in his backpack.
And his backpack. Oh, his backpack. 

 
We shopped around for a new one, but no, D insisted on wearing the pink Dora backpack I’d bought him over a year ago. I didn’t care that he was wearing a bright pink backpack — I think I just wanted to buy a new one, because there were so many cute ones for sale! But then I got over it, because how awesome is it that little kids don’t care about “boy backpacks” and “girl backpacks”? I love that he’s rocking the pink.

Peeking into the classroom

A very half-assed first drawing at preschool

Neither of them want to leave

There were tears when he realized Daddy and I were leaving, but the teachers assured us that he stopped as soon as we left. The tears had surprised me, because of how excited he’d been to get there.

He was all sunshine and smiles for the rest of the morning, and cheerfully greeted me when I picked him up. He knew exactly what cubby was his — I was like “Woah! Did they teach you to read your name or something?” — and he explained later that his has a blueberry on it. Ah, makes more sense than learning to read in a single morning.

His teacher are wonderful, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the pleasant little classroom. It’s a co-op preschool, which means the parents take turns volunteering (you do one week every 12 weeks). I’m thrilled that I get to hang out with D and his class in early October — and, also, that I get to pretend I’m a teacher because FUN and STICKERS and maybe writing on the CHALKBOARD (a.k.a. the dream).

***

Just hours later, D was scheduled to attend his very first swimming lesson. I was VERY nervous for it, because (A) he’s always been scared of the water, (B) he doesn’t have a ton of experience in the water, and (C) I wouldn’t be in the pool with him, so he’d surely freak out.

We’d been to this particular pool for the first time two days earlier (for a birthday party), and admired the beautiful new facility. But D had clung to me with a death-grip — while wearing a life jacket — and it took him almost the full hour to be comfortable enough to walk along the bottom where he could touch.

But when 5:30 rolled around, an instructor called his name, and I grabbed a chair on the sidelines while he followed her down the ramp into the pool. He seemed calm — chill, even. There were only three other kids in his class (the Sea Otters), and one spent the whole time sobbing on the pool deck with their mom, so really it was a two instructor/three kid ratio. Awesomesauce.

I had to stifle a laugh as I walked D bob up and down as he got deeper and deeper, with a comical little smile on his face. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket or a floatie, for the first time ever, and yet he seemed more relaxed than he’d ever been! Over the next 40 minutes, the instructors had him blowing bubbles, floating on his back, floating on his front, swimming with a noodle, kicking, swimming as a “train” with the other kids, and playing all kinds of water games.

I. WAS. SPEECHLESS. Was it some kind of swimming voodoo? How were they doing that? Was this really the same little boy who had clung to me, stiff as a board, two days earlier?

When the lesson was over, I wrapped D up in his train towel and gushed over how proud I was. He was thrilled with his lesson, and kept saying how he’d be back tomorrow (everything is tomorrow to him). I talked to one of the instructors and told her what an amazing job they did, and how I couldn’t believe his progress. And I still can’t. I told Darling Husband last night that we have already gotten our $85 worth. If they teach him absolutely nothing for the next two months, it’s been worth it.

***

In a single day, D went through two huge milestones. I also learned an important lesson, as a parent, because the thing I expected to go smoothly (preschool) had a rough beginning, and the thing I was sure would be a disaster (swimming) went perfectly. You just never know with kids, and it was a good reminder not to prejudge how they’ll react to something.

He’s still so, so little. But three is also very grown-up, too. For the first time in D’s three years, he’ll be spending two mornings a week away from me. He’ll be learning things that I don’t teach him. He’ll have stories I don’t know. He’ll tell me things that will make me wonder what happened, and I’ll never really know, because three-year-olds tend to make things up without realizing it.

I taught him his colours, his ABCs, how to count up to 20, to identify 1-10 and selected letters of the alphabet, and how to print 1, 4, 0, I, O, D, C, and V (random, I know, but those are the ones he’s made perfectly so far). I’ll help him to learn the rest, but so will someone else.

I’m so proud of him. He’s a smart, sweet, funny, happy little person that is going out in the world — without me — for the first time.

And he’s going to be great.

Love you forever, Baby D.
xoxo

4 Comments on “A day of firsts

  1. I love this post. I love that you let your kids make choices without imposing gender stereotypes on them. D looks so confident in his backpack!

    I can really relate to the last part. I'm all too aware that my child is becoming an individual, and the fact that she has stories I don't know about saddens me. We have a ritual every night where she recaps the day and makes me sing all the day's events to the tune of Bocelli's “Con Te Partiro,” but she spent this week with her grandparents so I didn't know what to sing about 🙁

  2. Love this post! So sweet it made me tear up. He's growing up so fast and is amazingly intelligent, funny, and confident for such a little guy. You're such an awesome mom!

    xox

  3. Wonderful post, Mama! You've captured real life so perfectly. Glad to hear D is such a champ — I knew he would be! XO

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