I questioned my decision to send him to playschool up until the night before, and even then I was a nervous wreck. I packed his Ziploc bag of 2T clothes and some permission slips in his backpack and sent him off with Jay, nearly sick to my stomach with worry that the whole thing would be a disaster. And he was fine. And he loved it. And he was so, so small.
(Clare wears these shoes now, and those shorts are so short as to be mildly obscene on him)I remember that about six weeks into school one of his teachers mentioned that she wished he would participate more instead of hanging around on the periphery and watching everything. "That's just his MO," I said. "He'll get the hang of it eventually. He did the same thing in Kindermusik." And then his trip to Chicago in November changed everything. Somehow, some way, that trip turned him into a different person. My theory is that going off to a big city alone with Vati and hanging out with Vati's friends gave him an extra-large dose of self-confidence that has yet to subside. His next day at school, after returning from his trip, his teacher said, "We don't know what happened on his trip, but Joshua is a different person." I noticed it too. The transformation was remarkable. Same Joshua, just...more of him.
Jay had been in charge of dropping him off in the Fall, but when January rolled around it was my job to take him. I was surprised by his confidence. After using the potty and washing his hands he ran to the door of his room without so much as a backward glance. If I wanted a kiss, I had to ask for it before he disappeared into his world of little friends, paint, and dressup. When the weather warmed up enough for them to go outside, he began telling me that he played with the "three-year-olds," and it wasn't long before he started asking me if he could go to the three-year-old class. I told him he could ask his teacher, but to my knowledge he never did.
Now he knows the names of almost all 40-something kids that go to school with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays. His teachers love him and are incredulous when I mention that his behavior at home might sometimes be less-than-stellar. Of course they are responsible for much of his transformation. Oh that we all could spend three hours every day in an environment where such unconditional love and concern come spilling out the doors.
On Thursday we will attend his end-of-the-year program where we will hear all of the songs that Joshua's been singing for the past several weeks. Then he'll have two weeks of day-camp-ish activities at school.
But this is it. This is the end of his first year of school. There's no way to quantify the ways we've all changed since September, but today I am reminded of how quickly time passes and how precious each moment is. Part of me wants to freeze everything just like it is. But that wouldn't be fair to him, and it wouldn't be fair to us, so I'll just allow myself to get a little weepy as I remember that I swore I would never be "that kind of mom."
But how could I not be?