Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
Yesterday was my son’s first day of preschool. He’s three weeks shy of four years old. May all possibly difficult parenting situations go as smoothly as this did!
As I left the classroom a mere three minutes after we arrived, I remarked to one of my son’s new teachers, “I’m sure you hear this all the time, but that was easier than I thought it would be!” He smiled a knowing smile. I sighed a relieved sigh.
As soon as we walked into the room, my son, Zachary, dashed to a table, sat down and began to color and cut paper. He locked on, was focused on his newfound play. After about a minute, I said, “Goodbye, Zach” to which he replied with a simple “Goodbye.” I was concerned that he didn’t really understand that I was leaving him there all by himself for three hours, so I repeated, “Goodbye, Zach.” Again, a simple “Goodbye” in response.
It was clear that he knew I was leaving – and that he didn’t care one bit! I quickly said, “Give me a kiss.” He gave me an obligatory peck on the lips and went back to his cutting. I was invisible. Gone.
I’m so immensely proud that he did so well. Of course, we worked hard in an attempt to have things go so well. For weeks, we’ve been explaining school and “talking it up.” We explained that he’d get to play, make new friends, learn new things. We told him in advance – expecting it would be true – that he’d love it. Luckily, at least this time, we were right.
Along with the pride, though, came a feeling of sadness. Sadness that my baby boy is growing up. Has grown up so much already. I’ll never hold him in my arms again. I’ll see him less and less as his school days get longer. I’ll begin to play an ever-decreasing role in his life. He’ll eventually move out and possibly far away.
Of course, this is all well into the years ahead, but in that moment where I was out of mind before even being out of sight, I couldn’t help feel a sharp pang. I expect that this combination – pride mixed with sadness – is something that I’ll continue to feel as he grows up. This is perhaps the definitive parenting experience – joy tinged by a small bit of melancholy.
Lest you think that my son didn’t cry on his first day of school, it’s important to note that three hours later, when school was over, he whined and cried that he didn’t want to leave!