Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Out of the coccoon

If his teacher only knew ...
For the past 3 years and 9 months, our little family has lived a sheltered little life. We've laughed, learned, cried, eaten, slept and loved together as a family with very little outside influence. (Okay, that sleeping thing may not be exactly true. There really is no togetherness about the way we sleep 'round here.) 

Thursday that all changes. For the first time, a whole lot of somebody elses will be influencing him, caring for him, loving him, playing with him, teaching him. This is all strange and new and exciting and scary.

As a family who will probably homeschool, we weren't sure how preschool would fit in with our plans. We decided late last year, after finding out that Owen was on his way, that preschool would be a good choice for our entire family. It would give Danny, our big boy, his own experience away from the babies to learn how to get along with others. Really, that's a hard thing to learn when your "peer" is a 20-month-old whose favorite word is mine and whose go-to defense mechanism is biting. It would give Fiona some mommy time when the baby is napping. I don't get to spend as much one-on-one time with her; and she let me know today with a little bite to the chest while I was snuggling with her and by swatting and screaming at anyone else I paid attention to.

The best part about this particular preschool is that they stress learning through play. That's probably why many families who plan on homeschooling have sent their kids here. It's not as unusual a combination as I thought.

Hard as it is to admit this, though, I'm nervous. About a lot of things. What if he poops his pants? What if he does that on his very first day? What if he hits another kid? What if he hits the teacher? What if he won't sit still? What if he starts spilling family "secrets"? What is this new woman in his life going to learn about our family? What is she going to think? Will she think I've indulged my kid too much because he insists that he sit on the red patch of carpet during circle time? It is his favorite color, after all ("I red," he informs me at least once a day.). I mean, our family is unique and different and special and no one else would ever understand.

Deep breath. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we're really not the Addams family. We're pretty normal and Danny is basically a good kid (who poops his pants from time to time and lately insists that he is Curious George, his sister is Gnocchi, his mother is Netty and his father is Chef Pisghetti.).

Last week, the preschool had an open house. The parents all brought their kids into the classroom for a short program that included play time, a craft, circle time and a prayer. My goal that morning was to let him be himself and interact with his new environment without being his liaison to the world. I didn't realize how tough that would be.

When he picked out the little blue duck with his name on it, I held my breath and hoped he wouldn't notice that another kid's duck was red. Because I just might have to explain to the teacher that, you see, he is red, always.

When he started interrupting the teacher during circle time, I bit my tongue and let the teacher handle it. But I thought, "Oh great, my kid is like Gerald from Sid the Science Kid."

When the teacher told the kids about the clean up song, Danny sang his own version. He performed the rock and roll clean up song. For his teacher. At the Christian preschool. Even if I wanted to, I wasn't sure just how to explain that he's been listening to the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash and Phish since he was a baby.

When the music started, Danny covered one ear because it was too loud and kept cleaning up with the other hand (and his momma was just so proud). I wanted to rush in and tell the teacher that Danny is very sensitive to loud noises unless, of course, he's making them. Turns out, I didn't have to; the teacher noticed his dilemma and asked him if the music was too loud. (Bless her!)

When it was craft time, Danny got silly and informed the group that the stamp pad felt like poop. I stole a glance at the teacher who didn't bat an eye. Okay, I'll let that one go.  

When the teacher asked them to close their eyes and repeat each line of the prayer after her, Danny dutifully closed his eyes. As the teacher began the prayer, Danny cried loudly, "I can't see. I can't see. It's dark."

I froze. Then I laughed. Then the other mommies laughed. The teacher comforted him and explained that he didn't have to close his eyes. I guarantee that Danny probably is the first kid she's ever seen react that way during prayer time.

And all I could think was this: "There go the first two family secrets: we like rock and roll and we don't routinely pray at our house."

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