Today is Wombat’s last day of preschool, and I’m having one of those dumb moments where I know it’s the right time to move on yet it seems like he just got started and wait! I’m not ready! slow down! just give me a minute! I’m embarrassingly terrible (embarrible) at goodbyes, so I’ve been fogging up my sunglasses during drop-off and pick-up for a few days now, and at least in that way I’m really ready for it to just be over, by golly, so I can stop giving myself a migraine from trying to hold back tears.
(We all know well how I held it together when he left daycare: not at all, unless weeping for two weeks beforehand falls under your definition of “breezy.”)(I should not have just re-read that post because now I’m doing the ugly cry, even though Fox is there right now and I see Daycare Lady five days a week so it’s not like I miss it/her or anything.)(And there’s an interesting point: What am I sad about missing from preschool? The place? The people? Or moreso the person Wombat is/was in that place and with those people?)
Of course I’m going to miss all of it, and of course there’s a part of me that’s worried kindergarten will take some of the magic out of him, that it won’t give him the time and freedom to draw me too many pictures every day, that this is the beginning of the end of when he is mostly mine instead of completely his own. I’m usually wrong about that sort of thing, though, so let’s just skip right over that puddle and pay it no attention at all because I already have quite enough on my brain-plate, thank you.
(But, oh, my heart, I know for sure I won’t pull up to kindergarten on hot Indian summer days and find all the kids tearing through the playground in their tiny-butt underpants. That I will miss A LOT.)
When the big things feel scary, I find comfort in the little things, and today I find comfort in Wombat’s cubby full of sticks and rocks and pine needles and flowers and loquat seeds (no, pits! no, seeds!) and woodchips and sand (whyyyyyy???) and bits of string and gigantic tangly wads of string and stray marker caps and other assorted odds and ends that look like junk but turn out to be very important things like tickets to this evening’s performance and, oh!, MAGIC BEANS. (Better in his cubby than in his pockets, though, amirite?)(Dammit. Now I’m crying again.)
For sure, preschool has been great, and I hope Wombat remembers his time there as he grows older. It hasn’t been the wondrous fairytale land daycare was, where he learned concrete, useful, measurable, impressive-sounding-at-parties things that made my type-A parts spark and tingle, but the thing I was most worried about–the loosey-goosey structure at a play-based preschool–turned out to be fine, just fine. They didn’t focus on teaching him all the traditional things a kid might learn in a traditional preschool (and which he picked up anyway, as kids do), but the most valuable thing he learned there is the most valuable thing any of us can learn anywhere, I think: he learned himself.
Sure, he learned to cut and paste and tape and tie and build and make a kite out of paper and a string and binoculars out of TP tubes and a magic board that has wheels for land, a fin for water, and hover powers for the sky. (Don’t be fooled just because it looks like a ratty old rectangle of cardboard.) In his flat-out amazing pre-K class, he learned what to feed a walking stick and how lungs work and where wind comes from and what makes an outstanding teacher. But he also learned how to be the little kid and how to be the big kid and how it feels to help a friend and how it feels to love more than one pretty girl at a time and how it feels to love someone who drives you crazy and how it feels when two bossy people want to play different games but with each other and how it feels when someone says “I get you” and then shows you that they really, really do.
Maybe I’m mostly sad because I know I can’t possibly express to his teachers how lucky we’ve been to have them support our kid as he learns about the world and how he fits into it. A gift card is nice but…lacking.
I had to do a first day/last day photo comparison to convince me that it really has been almost two years because I can’t quite believe it. The problem with these two pictures is that he actually looks about the same size, if not smaller, in the one I took this morning. One part of that is probably that his backpack is still the size of a Galápagos tortoise shell, but the other part is purely perspective. I’m seeing him from above instead of below. He’s bigger by five inches and five million vocabulary words but he takes up less of the frame. He’s a big fish but in a pond that’s expanding every day.
As our kids get bigger, so does their world, the frame of view that surrounds them. A baby heavy who fills up your arms can feel so much larger than a four-foot-tall man-child who can scale the climbing structure like a jet on steep ascent and then shoot out into space on suddenly-feathered wings, dangling in the sky like a hummingbird for only a second before he swoops low to the ground and zooms off into the distance, never quite touching the ground, going, going, going until he’s just a speck. He’s a bird, he’s a plane, he’s super. Man, oh man.
Preschool: We’ll miss you like crazy, but we also know you’ve given us the best, most important parts to take with us.