Henry began preschool this morning. We went to school last week to meet his teachers and to fill out all sorts of forms. I remembered again how much I love preschool. The teachers gave us the daily classroom schedule, which looks something like this: arrival, play at table, snack, music, lunch, play outside, go home. I think we can all get behind those plans.
The forms left me doubting my abilities as a mother because I couldn’t answer seemingly basic questions about my child. “Is your child more loud or quiet?” He’s usually quiet, but when he decides to speak, he is very loud. “Is your child more inquisitive or thoughtful?” Well, he gets into every sort of trouble, but I also know that the gears are grinding in that toddler brain. “Does your child know how to walk in a group without holding someone’s hand?” Yes. He could do that. Couldn’t he?
I got my answer at drop-off. Henry is at a different preschool than Eleanor attended because her old school only takes children older than 2. This new school is bigger, and so we were parking at the end of a much larger parking lot. Henry gamely carried his backpack, which was laden with two water bottles that Greg had helpfully(!) filled at home (Not helpful, Greg.). I carried my purse, Henry’s lunch box, and a bag with his emergency allergy medications. Plus, I held Henry’s hand.
As we neared the sidewalk up to the school, Henry started to drag his feet. I picked him up, but it was extra awkward to carry him while he was still wearing his backpack. He tried to dive away from my body, so I set him down. He took off his backpack and pointed at the pocket on its front. I crouched beside him to try to understand what he wanted, but I don’t speak toddler. He continued to point and began to shriek. I took the backpack from him and walked toward the school.
“Come on, Henry,” I called in my most encouraging voice. He was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing dozens of parents and well-behaved children to dodge him. “Look at all of the friends going into school,” I said. My voice was becoming squeaky with my effort to keep everything happy and pleasant.
Henry began to fake cry and then laid down on the sidewalk. We were approaching full-blown tantrum. Other parents threw pitying looks my way as their children bounced past. I had been prepared for the classroom meltdown but not this. I put his backpack over my shoulder and then picked him up. I hauled him toward the school, knocking a child in the head with the dangling lunch box as I went through the door, and dumped Henry into the arms of his teacher. It was a moment of desperation, not ceremony.
So, the only photos we have are those that Greg took before we left for school. They are a good snapshot of Henry’s personality. I hope those teachers can steer this very determined little creature in a positive direction.
He would not give up the stroller.
Daddy took away the stroller.
Yeah, he will not be deterred from his mission.