Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Preschooler in the Family

It's official! Tucker is a preschooler!

We talked about it all morning, through our fruit bars and Cheerios, through getting dressed and combing hair, through seatbelts and car rides: Today is Tucker's Big Day. We visited the classroom yesterday, so he had met his teacher and even played with some new friends. (He likes Mason and Natalie very much.) So he was Oh-So-Ready.

He was Mr. Enthusiasm... until we walked into the classroom. Nope. No, thank you. We'll try again next year.

The children were taking their places on the Circle Time Rug when we arrived, and Tucker was not at all interested in joining them. Tyler, on the other hand, pranced around the room. "Tucker! Your cubby! Come hang up your backpack!" (Tyler approaches life a bit differently.)

Miss Emily warmly called his name and encouraged him to join his friends. In response, he turned and began to climb up my torso, softly saying, "Mommy, kiss. Kiss. Kiss."

Translated: I'm going to need a million goodbye kisses to make it through this morning.

But Miss Emily is a total pro, as I will hereby and forever need every teacher of my children to be. She walked to him, scooped him up with a smile, and said, "Tuck, let's come over to the window and see if somebody walks by that you know."

Brilliant. And THAT was my cue to slip out the door and be the person he knows on the other side of the window. I love her already.

Tyler and I waved from the other side, gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up, and headed down the hallway. Just like that, I heard twelve little voices say, "Good morning, Tucker!" Music to my ears. With that greeting, I promptly left my preschooler in a classroom all his own.

I applauded myself all the way to the car: job well done. Good work, Mom. No tears, no sadness, only proud sentiment. Good work.

Why won't my car shift into Drive? What the...? Oh. Tyler's side door is wide open. Perhaps I'll close it before I pull into oncoming traffic.

And perhaps my heart is a little more distracted than I thought.

I closed the door and drove on, still so impressed with myself and the hearty embrace of this next life stage, this new transition. I thought of Tucker's proud smile as he waved goodbye, of his new friends, and of his blue glittery name on the bulletin board.
He belongs here.

I prayed for him: for his confidence, his new friends, his safety, and that everyone might understand what he wants to say, since he's on his own without any translation assistance.

And I prayed for Miss Emily, the leader of this small troupe of explorers. And that's when I realized: I've been praying for Miss Emily for years. I have long prayed for the future teachers of our children: I have prayed that they would be perfectly placed, that they would be passionate experts in their field, and that they might have tender hearts to love our children individually and with great depth.

I've been praying for her for years. And I finally know her name.

Suddenly, Mommy of Steel was soft as a puddle. Bring on the tissues.

Tyler and I planned adventures of our own in Tucker's absence. I think Tyler will be okay with this new plan, though he asks about his built-in playmate about every ten minutes. Watching these two, I am learning that it is a gift to miss someone.

We picked him up at the end of the morning, and he was all smiles and confidence as he strode out the door. He seemed taller, smarter, and somehow older.

We did it. My big boy is a preschooler.

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