The Last Pick Up from Preschool

Is there anything more the definition of kids growing up than the word "bittersweet"? It seems every time I speak with other moms lately, we all throw that word around in between tears and relief and gratitude for all that is happening. 

I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT ALL THAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.

We went to the botanic gardens last week with Nikki (don't get me started on how it's our last Summer with Nikki before she moves on and these kids start kindergarten in the fall because I LOSE IT EVERY TIME I THINK ABOUT IT), and she took my new favorite picture.

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Bittersweet. My babies are little big kids. They are perfect and they are exactly as they should be, but they are growing every single day. My girl is going to be taller than me in like, five minutes, and she was the teeny tiny twin b they said almost didn't make it.

When they come and love all over me, I melt away. I am theirs completely. Forever. Among the other things that Nikki has infiltrated our lives with, it's capturing and paying attention to moments like this. Invaluable. Thinking of not being able to grab and love all over each other - of families not able to do so - is as powerful a feeling of gratitude and sadness as I've ever felt.

I can't remember the last time I had to wipe a bottom, but I think it was about a month ago at this point, because somewhere along the way, they both figured it out and aren't yelling, MAMA WILL YOU WIPE MY BOTTOM any longer. They just do it, wash their hands (most of the time), and go about their business. Amazing. For the first time in 5 years, I'm not wiping bottoms.

We've got teeth falling out - remember the shark teeth? - at such a rapid pace-

It's hard to keep up!  Our girl is losing teeth and our boy wants nothing to do with it. It's super creepy, the losing of teeth! When our girl lost the first one a few weeks ago, we were out playing in the grass and I DROPPED IT. My husband found it after we all searched frantically and Nikki's response when we facetimed with her immediately (BECAUSE THIS WAS BIG) was, "well we HOPE it's her tooth!" as opposed to someone else's tooth - CREEPY.

These are the reminders on my phone right now -

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Boy I have to send that Tooth Fairy all kinds of reminders. They already know she/he isn't real, the stinkers. They just play along for the fun of it.

When I work from home, I have reminders set to pick up the kids from school. As the alarm went off last Friday, my dear sweet terrible husband said, "well that's the last time you'll need that one" and I laid down and died right there. Last day of school is tomorrow, the last pick up from preschool.

They've played all the buddy baseball and bounced through all the cheerleading and family fun day is over and all the artwork has been taken from mailboxes and lockers are being cleared and the extra underpants are being returned.

I have walked the route to school so many times this past year - when we first moved into the neighborhood we knew this school was a couple blocks away. We would play at the playground and marvel at the cute and colorful decorations and what looked like special projects lining the school.  As they got older, I became almost desperate for them to go there, at least one year, as it's an amazing school and I wish all kids could go there for at least one year. We got really lucky and made it in this past year and every day I am so so so grateful.

As we walk to drop offs, we have all the hopes and dreams for the days conversations. As I walk home alone and back to pick them up alone, I play Chance the Rapper and sing out loud my gratitude. Are you ready for your blessings, are you ready for your miracle?

My boy is having big feelings lately about all this. His dida has made a return after being relatively out of circulation for a while. We all need some extra comfort as we make this transition. So many great friends and teachers and staff and routines coming to an end. So much to look forward to and the unknown is scary. For adults and children.

I am having big big feelings about all this change and growth. While highly grateful, I am also sad. And it is ok to be sad. It is ok to mourn what was before moving on to what will be. It is ok to acknowledge that this is a time we will never get back and while some of it has been hard, most of it has been entirely lovely and I'm so thankful for this slower, shorter school day with lots of mama and kid time still in tact. We won't have that any longer when they get to kindergarten.

I will miss this year. The holding hands and the skipping. The scooting to school and back. The great big hugs and kisses. I know this will all exist in the coming years as well, but it won't be quite the same.

It is important that I allow my kids to feel all these feelings along with allowing myself to do the same. We are saying things out loud and acknowledging their presence. We are naming our feelings. We are grieving together. We are appreciating all the wonderful things this year has brought us and being sad for a moment about it ending. We are fortunate in that some of their best friends from this year will continue on to our next school, so they will have familiar faces to look for come September.

What makes it so hard to say goodbye to a preschool?

Each day when we walk to the door, the principal and other staff greet us outside to say good morning. The off-duty police officer is there too keeping a watchful eye. Smiles are contagious. There is something about little kids with giant backpacks that gets me even after seeing it several hundred times.

All these kids are sponges and they absorb everything. Every smile, every acknowledgement to their presence, every reaction to each story they are so excited to tell. The adults they meet when they are little form the way they feel about adults going forward. It must be filled with trust and respect and tender care. When you are lucky enough to go to a preschool that has adults with all those things? Well my friends, you have hit the jackpot.

From the first day we walked in last fall, I knew we were exactly where we needed to be. Nowhere else could possibly be as perfect for these kids, at this exact time. As they’ve made their own friends and cultivated their own interests, they are twins in the same classroom, and will continue that on into kindergarten. Their teachers say they are a good example of twins doing their own thing yet finding comfort in each other. It’s good to hear and I don’t want to take that away from them until it’s time.

We are fortunate enough to go to a very special school that services 3-5 year olds. And very special 3-5 year olds. Kids with disabilities or special needs are treated so well here it makes my heart grow each time I get a chance to walk through.

There is a feeling you get in your gut when you know you are in the right place. When you know that the entire staff, and I mean the entire staff, is there because they want to be there (and also WE GOT TO GET PAID) and they love what they do. I mean, not all the time, but within reason.

Every staff member is smiling and we all get to know each other. Even those in other classrooms. We hug. WE HUG. We genuinely care about these kids so much that it doesn’t even matter if they have direct interaction with my kids, I’m just so thankful they are there for all these kids.

We have two main teachers in our classroom and three aides. I see each one carefully and well planned out attending to their kids. I see the aides with their little buddies every single day, every single minute, helping them and never ever do I see an annoyance or a loss of patience or a look of GET ME OUT OF HERE. I see the teachers with my kids, my angels, who try my patience daily several times, I see the teachers just being with them and teaching them without them even knowing they’re being taught.

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Look at these teachers in their Trolls costumes! ALL IN. And this is how they attend every single day, with this passion, not with these costumes.

I see the two gym teachers who know every single kids name and the grown ups who belong to them. I see the one who came to me one day when my boy had his cast on to talk about the specialness of twins and how my two interact with each other and how competitive yet encouraging they are with one another. The teachers said I was doing a good job. I started getting weepy saying, ARE YOU KIDDING ME YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB. Those little things mean so so so much and they don’t have to say them. But they do.

I see the administrative staff in the office every day doing the work to keep everything moving in the right direction for so many kids under their care each day.

I see the Principal, fighting for what is important to her. Fighting bureaucracy for what should really matter – these kids. I see it.

I see the teachers asking for supplies that they shouldn’t really have to ask for, but we parents bend over backwards to provide as much as we can.

I roll my eyes when I see a request to make “marshmallow flingers” at home to bring into school.  Honestly, I don’t have time for this nonsense.  And then I start crying when I see every single kid in their class come up with the most creative damn marshmallow flingers.  The teachers use this app called “seesaw” and we get a picture or video each day of what they’re doing and DAMMIT ALL I DO IS CRY AND CHEER for these kids. I admit once again that these teachers know exactly what they’re doing when they assign a marshmallow flinger and I’m a big dummy.  It’s pure magic to watch their brains and hands come to life.

Somebody said recently that we were so lucky to go to this school but it ruins us for anything else going forward. Well, I absolutely can see that, but I also have to hope that very good things are ahead of us. SO many teachers and administrators are doing the hard work for our kids each day and I for one, cannot wait to continue to be their biggest cheerleader.

If it weren’t incredible and so very good, it wouldn’t be so hard to let go. Love hard. Lose hard. Move on to love hard again. This is the stuff of life that I wouldn’t want to miss. That I wouldn’t want to numb out. I want to feel all this, but damn that change happens fast and it’s hard to keep up. What a beautiful, hard, perfectly normal life this is.

Every day when I read the news, I question bringing these perfectly innocent children into this horror show. Every gd day. Every generation has had these same fears with what they were facing at the time. Why does it feel so much worse right now? Is it because I have my own kids or is it that much worse? I know the answer. As these kids grow older I know it will be harder and harder to explain why things are the way they are. Why anyone would accept what is happening and not stop it. I have to keep reminding them that just because it seems like everything is terrible right now doesn't mean it's always going to be this way. Things can and will change and we are a part of that. We get to be a part of that. I have to choose hope for all of us because what other choice do we have? I choose to be a part of this goodness and hope and passing it on and as long as I get to be their mama I will encourage kindness and gratitude and acceptance and love. Anger and rage as necessary, because oh my god is it necessary. Every single day I am alive, I want to do right by these kids. Do right by all these kids that didn't ask to be born into all this garbage, but here they are and as long as I keep doing the next right thing, as long as I stay sober and aware, I can help them along their way to help others too.

If preschool is a microcosm of society, all these different families with different backgrounds and beliefs and yet all these kids play together and get along, why can't adults do this respectfully without stripping people of their dignity and rights as human beings? Girls have the same rights as boys when they are little and yet the rules change for women as we grow up. Skin color and ability-level means little when we are young and yet ableism and misogyny and bigotry and racism abound within older kids and adults. We don't start out this way. Right now my boy wants to marry his best friend and his twin sister. Right now my girl wants to marry three of her girlfriends and her twin brother. The innocence and purity astounds and delights me daily. May they always keep some part of that with them.

This year at school, these kids were treated with the utmost respect and taught to treat others with respect and love, no matter what they look like or sound like. When does that stop for people? Why do we have all these folks out here in the world treating each other without respect, care, and tenderness.  The worst part is many do it in the name of religion. I choose no religion. I claim love and kindness and gratitude. And rage when necessary. We will not lie down in kindness and acceptance of awful behavior and treatment, but we will stand up. Even taller for those who need it most. If I can teach these kids to fight for the little guy, to stand up for the one people are picking on, I will have done my job. It's not always about being nice. It's not always about "getting along". It's about what is right and true.

I will miss this Utopian year of preschool. I will strive in all our coming years of school to recreate the very best parts of this year in our kids and all we meet. As always, I am just grateful for the opportunity to be here, to have this life beyond my wildest dreams, and all I want to do is share that with as many people as we can.

"We will never forget this year at school, Mama."
Neither will I, my sweet babies. Neither will I.

To all the teachers, to all the staff, to all the caregivers of these precious children - I am forever grateful.

From last year - I wrote about their first year of preschool graduation here.

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