It could have gone either way. He’s unpredictable, my second-born son. On his first day of preschool he could have either a) sprinted into the classroom with barely a “See ya, Mom!” like his older brother, b) cried and clung to my leg, or c) some other reaction I could neither foresee nor explain. Like kicking the teacher in the shins and making a run for it.
Remember, this is the kid we called the Duke of Puke because he hurled more than an Olympic shot-putter at age 1, who once called an unsuspecting passerby a “chucklehead” in the grocery store when he was 2, and the one who unexpectedly begged for solo swimming lessons at 3. Sensitive, silly, brave, bonkers, a homebody and a ham – these words all describe my younger son.
So walking into his school, I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out: stubbornness. Like our dog when it’s time for a bath, he dug in his heels and refused to budge. Wouldn’t even cross the threshold of his classroom. Half-dragging, half-pushing him, I inched him into the play area. He couldn’t resist the plastic dinosaurs and action figures. “You stay here, Mama,” he instructed me, before turning his attention to the Hulk and Spidey.
I find it hilarious that my son, who at home does impressions of Stewie from “Family Guy” and regularly breakdances naked, went completely mute when his teacher spoke to him. In a jovial preschool-teacher voice, she inquired about his summer. He went full possum on her, freezing and playing dead until she moved on to the next child. Who IS this kid?!
That was just the one-hour orientation. The first full day – and by “full” I mean 3 whole hours, or enough time to go through half your mail or laundry pile if you’re lucky – I would be dropping him off in the carpool line. As our car inched to the front, he got more and more anxious. “I don’t WANT to go, Mama! You come WITH me!”
“I can’t, sweetie. The chairs are too small for me.” What? They are! “You’ll have a great time, I just know it. They give you a SNACK.” The way to my son’s heart is through his sweet tooth.
Then, like pulling off a Band-Aid, the teacher whisked him out of the car and led him to his doom. At least that’s what he looked like. It tugged at my heartstrings, people. It did. Not so much that it stopped me from heading straight to the gym, though.
I was one of the first ones in line at pickup. “So?? How WAS it, sweetie? Tell me all about your day!”
With a small smile, he settled himself into his carseat and said, “I was scared at first.”
“You were a little scared? That’s OK, buddy. I used to get scared on the first day of school, too.”
“I was A LOT scared. Of all the grownups.”
“Oh. But you’re not scared anymore?”
“No. And guess what, Mom? We got OREOS.”
“You had Oreos for snack? No way! Lucky boy. Did you save me one?”
Giggles. “No! And guess what else, Mom? We had music.”
“Yeah? Did you play instruments? Did you sing songs?”
“No. I was a little shy to sing.”
“That’s OK. Buddy, I’m so proud of you! Sounds like you had a great day.”
“Yup.” Smiles. “Can we go home now?” That’s my boy.