08 September 2011

Back to School

So when the phrase "first day of school" has been absent from your vocabulary for an extensive period of time, it can come as quite a shock when it suddenly reenters your orbit. Which is exactly what happened recently, as Labor Day approached and then passed, brining us to the Doozer's first day of school. Having turned three in August (three!), it was time for him to embark on the next great adventure of his young life: Preschool.

We selected a co-op preschool in our area, realizing only later that maybe we might not be co-op people after all. We left our first pre-meeting with other parents, board members, etc., and I said to my wife, "Are you sure we're co-op people?" We are, typically, not joiners. And when you enroll your kid in a co-op, there is a lot of involvement required. A lot.

But we liked the school and the teachers and the whole co-op vibe appealed to the kind of people we'd like to be.

So we talked up school all summer. We got a backpack for his birthday (covered in dinosaurs, natch), only to discover that the cubby holes at school are too narrow for backpacks and they recommend tote bags instead. And now we have a tote bag. He got a new shirt to wear on his first day. He was ready. He woke up in the morning, all amped up.

And we were late. We were the parents of the last kid to arrive in class. We didn't miss much, just part of a story. But still. That's us. The ones who can't get their act together to be on time for the first day of school. Seems about right.

Then there was a song. And much like when people try to sing "Happy Birthday" to our son, he recoiled. The song went around the room, introducing all the kids in the class. When they got to the Doozer's name, he stopped clapping along, turned around, and buried his face against me, refusing to acknowledge the song. Maybe next time.

After the song, the teacher gathered all the kids in the corner of the room to talk about the weather outside that morning. The kids all lined up in front of her and several eagerly answered her questions. The Doozer kept his distance. He laid down on the floor, on his back, stared at the ceiling, and played with his name tag.


Shortly after, the kids were turned loose for a bit of free play time. This was my cue to exit and head to the office. It took a moment or two to get steer the Doozer's attention away from the cars and trucks he'd started pulling off the shelf. A quick hug and a kiss ensued and then I got an abrupt wave and a "Bye!" I got the message loud and clear.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Dada.

That night, there was a lot to report. He painted a picture for the first time. It was mostly a giant red splotch, but still, he painted that. (Actually, it bore a vague resemblance to a Rothko. Go figure.) He peed on the floor a little. (Yes, we're the parents of that kid, too.) He made some new friends, apparently. Or at least, he remembered their names.

Later, one of the parents who'd been working in the class that first day set up an online album of photos from the first day. And the Doozer was all over them. There he was shooting hoops. He didn't tell us about that. There is he is, lined up with the other kids from class, waiting to go out to the playground. Wait a second. He took direction? Somebody asked/told him what to do and he did it? Really?

Who is this kid?

The strangest part of viewing these photos was seeing the Doozer having experiences that we weren't part of. Seeing him with a bunch of people I don't really know, that aren't related to him. Realizing that this is only the beginning. He will start having a life apart from us. He will become even more independent. He'll move out and get his own place. Like, tomorrow. Where has all the time gone?

My son started school this week. Crazy. I am officially a very old man.

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