by Risa Green
The preschool that my children have gone to is awesome. It’s this super-mellow, down-to-earth, developmental haven, which is not an easy thing to find in Los Angeles. I’ve been bringing one or the other of my kids there for seven years now, and in a few short weeks, my son is graduating. For me, it’s the end of an era.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve grown up in my kids’ preschool. I started as a neurotic, first time mom in mommy and me, then watched (in horror) as my daughter transitioned to staying at school without me. And the next year, I started all over again with my son, this time as a seasoned veteran. My daughter soon graduated, and I went on to become one of those harried, crazed preschool moms with an older kid in elementary school, trying to straddle two worlds at once and not doing a very good job in either of them. And now, finally, here I am, about to become a mom of a preschooler no longer, but rather a mom of two school-aged children. How did that happen? When did I get so old? Where has all of the time gone?
In a rare moment of organization, I took all of the old tapes from our video camera to a place that puts them all on DVD, and I just got them back the other day. I sat in our playroom, now devoid of the pretend kitchen, the blocks and the baby toys, and I watched DVD after DVD of my children’s baby and toddler years. I marveled at how young I looked back then – how can a person get so many forehead wrinkles in just eight years? – but mostly, I marveled at how many of our videos revolved around the preschool. My kids as Shabbat boy or girl on Friday afternoons, the holiday plays, the field trips, the Mother’s Day celebrations, the pet parade that I used to bring our dog to every spring, until she died last year. My daughter’s best friends are still her friends from preschool, and I was amazed that these mature, Justice-wearing, iCarly-watching eight year-olds who sleep over every other weekend were ever so small, with their chubby little cheeks and their cute little voices. What happened to those cheeks? What happened to those voices?
Watching those tapes reminded me of how precious this time has been, and how much I’ve enjoyed being a part of our preschool community. Preschool is just a sweeter time, a funnier time, a more innocent time. Somewhere in my garage, I’ve got a box full of drawings and handprints and birthday crowns and stories my kids have dictated, all of them from preschool. In fact, one of them I just put in that box the other day, from when my son was learning about the five senses a few weeks ago. His preschool teachers asked him to draw a picture of a moist sponge and to write down how it felt to him. Apparently, he thought it felt wet and fuzzy. Except that he wrote his Z’s backwards, so that it looked like it said fussy. And then he accidentally made his F look like a P. So his picture said wet pussy. And up until last week, it was hanging up on the wall outside of his classroom, where lots of moms and teachers took pictures of it and posted it on Facebook. Of course, he had no idea. He’s five, and that’s exactly why it’s so hilarious. But things like that don’t happen in elementary school, where the kids know how to make their letters properly, and they’re more self-conscious about what they write, and they know that the word pussy isn’t just another way to talk about a cat. No, things like that can only happen in preschool. And boy, am I going to miss it.