on your first day of preschool. i have your (two) backpack(s) ready. which means one has an extra outfit inside in case you get dirty or wet somehow in your class or outside (what used to be called “recess” is now “gross motor play”). you’re not going to. get dirty or wet, i mean. but it’s in there anyways. i looked over the paperwork, so much paperwork, for vital bits of information to prepare myself for the first day. but nothing about letting go and walking away and leaving you in the care and company of strangers. no, nothing about that. lunches go on the lunch cart, but you don’t stay for lunch. backpacks and jackets go in cubbies, which are shared, encourage the children to find their own name tags (to encourage “pre-literacy skills”. more like so the teacher knows which parent to call when the kid wets himself and ruins outfit number two, or won’t stop bawling in the corner, or is using “gross motor time” to practice her karate kicks on others).
the classroom is nice. feng shui, even. pinecones and natural lighting and open-floor-planning. something out of HGTV. your teacher is young and friendly, with an easy smile. will she know to give you space? and time? to be constantly open to you but never forceful? i should write her an e mail. tell her never to draw attention to you, but to give you secret smiles and quiet, kind words. and laughter. the key to the iron-clad door to your heart (you won’t love easily. in some ways, this is good. we can talk more about that later (if you ever want to talk about these things with your old mom)). the kids are…kids. always the same crowd. you should get used to it. some loud, some aggressive, some quiet and tearful, and others who do their own thing. people. throughout your whole life, there will always be people. struggling to come from different places and connect with each other. it’s always the same. don’t let them shake you. learn to enjoy them for who they are. we can talk more about this later. at least i like to think we can.
when we enter your classroom, everyone will be nervous. the kids, parents, and teacher. no one will know what to do. what to say. i’ll come with you into a corner and play with the sand table. read you a book. but i can’t stay.
this is your place. not mine. the first time you’ll be on your own, cliche as that is, but an island of yourself, out of sight of land. just you.
i can’t find anything in my preschool orientation packet that tells me how to let go of your hand, turn from you, and walk out the door. i keep looking, but it’s not included.
don’t mistake me. i hold you in the highest regard and think you are the strongest, bravest, and best.
but you’re just three. and i don’t know how to let you go. not even just a little bit. not even for a little while.