Gabe’s transition to preschool has been…a wee bumpy.
You’d think from his behavior that we were abandoning him in some godforsaken warehouse instead of dropping him off at the same daycare that he’s attended for the last 2 years.
Seriously, Gabe? Is it really that big a deal to move across the hallway with a teacher you already know and kids you’ve already played with?
Apparently it is. How do I know this?
1. At drop-off, Gabe does an awesome impersonation of a screaming howler monkey. Every day.
2. At pick-up, Gabe greets me with a bag of dirty clothes that he calls “my pee pee bag”. Every day.
(“Yup, I’ll bring a new set of clothes tomorrow…Oh, I see. You need several sets of clothes for tomorrow.”)
3. At home, he’s become our hair-trigger kid. Every single freakin’ day.
(“Gabe, would you like to – “
“Alright then. Why don’t I ask you again when you’re done beating up the floor.” )
What do we have to do to get this kid with the program? All he has to do is walk calmly into class, hang up his coat and backpack, and then join the other kids playing with dinosaurs? Oh, and take advantage of the lavatory at some point during the day because Thomas the Tank Engine is tired of getting peed on.
We are stuck in a pattern, each day living the very definition of madness – repeat the action, expect a different result. Huh, that’s weird, let me try this again…Oh crap, it’s the same. Maybe tomorrow…nope, still the same….
Last week I finally took a moment to see this new environment through his eyes.
The toys are different, stored in new locations. The classroom has a view of the parking lot instead of the playground. He does have some new classmates, many of whom are a few months older, which is like light-years at this age.
There are days when I wonder how I ever attained a college degree, let alone an advanced one. Preschool is a big deal. And it wasn’t Gabe who had to get with the program.
It was me.
His transition to this new, “big boy” classroom was going to take as long as it needed to. And no amount of impatient foot-tapping, not-so-gentle nudging down the hall, or mildly irritated exhales were going to speed it up. If anything, I had to just slow down and yield control – two major themes that the Universe was going to keep throwing in my face until I got it.
We leave the house a little earlier now. Instead of stabbing the elevator button repeatedly as I countdown the minutes to making Nick’s drop-off on time, I let Gabe tiptoe to reach the UP button, then wait for him to do the same once we’re inside. I let him run up and down the hallway before we go into his classroom where I watch him stroll to the window overlooking the parking lot and point to our car. I gently ask where his coat goes, then wait as he meanders towards his cubby, shooing away my impulse to help him take his coat off.
“Let me do it by myself.”
Translation: Let me be in charge.
Of my coat.
Of my transition.
Of my experience.
I remind myself to just be present as he attempts to get the loop onto the hook not once…almost, buddy, try again…not, twice…that’s ok, kiddo….but finally, on that third try…good job, Gabe.
I kneel to meet him – eye to eye – and ask, “Are you ready?”
“Please stay with me, Nana.”
My heart breaks a little, but I take a deep breath and assure him that I will pick him up after school, as I always do. Then with a final kiss on the cheek, I take his hand and lead him to his teacher before walking out the door.
When I check my watch in the elevator, I note that I have added an extra minute to the drop-off routine. And instead of the monkey mind chattering away, “Hurryuphurryuphurryup…” I realize that within that 60 seconds, I had no thoughts at all.
I was just the Observer who stands, and waits and knows that everything that really matters was already happening.
Is already happening.