Summer, that is.
Earlier this morning the Boy shipped off for his last day of pre-school, a thundery and sticky morning that, once the clouds break, is expected to be a scorcher. Very appropriate weather to kick-off his vacation season before Kindergarten swings into action in September.
Last night, Mom and I, along with the full Quartet of Grandparents, watched him graduate in full pomp - the white cap and gown, hair freshly cut, the "dressy pants" underneath. (which took 10 minutes of coaxing to get him changed out of his Army shorts).
And there they were, sixteen jittery 5.5 year olds singing lovely little songs (most with obligatory hand motions) and informing their captive audience what they will be when they grow up. And considering the circumstances, they did fantastic - a true testament to the amazing teachers. You see, the whole time, these mature and discerning youngins were within eyesight of a cookie buffet. There were Paparazzi levels of flashbulbs snapping and video cameras rolling from every corner, and a multi-generational audience beaming from ear to ear at their every twitch and stutter. But there they stood, hardly ever playing with the cap tassels, nobody wiping boogers on their neighbors or giving random shout outs to their respective families. (you've all heard the "that's my dad!!!" or "I see grandma!!!" during a Christmas concert, right?)
I'm not sure how the teachers and staff pulled that off, but I want in on the secret.
Really, I shouldn't be surprised though. From the beginning - when his primary teacher actually came out to our house to meet the Boy two years ago so he would recognize someone on his first day - to today's end, we've been nothing short of amazed at the adults that - on purpose! - spend their entire day surrounded by walking and babbling germ factories. And love it. And smile at every child, every morning, regardless of that child's escapades the day before. Constantly having their personal space invaded by impromptu (and food-encrusted) hugs, sore necks and backs from walking with eyes cast down toward their miniature audience, always stooping to hear the whispered voices or separate the boys before things get serious. Blessed with the gifts of Short Memory and Second Chance and Quick Smile, all with a gymnast's dexterity. Wowsers. I'm not sure how much any of them get paid, but I'm positive it should be more.
And the Boy. Ah, this Boy of mine. At age 3, "visiting" his school for the first time, lip trembling at the noise 20+ kids make when in a room together - more kids than he had ever seen at once. Such a little guy, still wearing the "I might not remember to stop playing and go potty" underwear. Barely speaking above a whisper. And now - confident. Bold. Active and smart. Brave, and excited for Kindergarten. What a transformation, one that I'm positive couldn't have happened without the gentle, reliable, constant and positive prodding of this group of caring adults.
So, for this group, the ones that are able to convince 5 year olds that standing still and staying quiet is actually a good idea once and a while, and for the last 2 years have helped the Boy grow into a fine young man, some shout outs from a thankful parent are necessary.
First there's Sandy L, who for what seemed like the entire first year, was the name we used to coax our fearful little 3.5 year old into the van. "Hurry up, we can't be late, Sandy's waiting for you!" In the Boy's eyes, she was the safe zone, the comfortable and caring eyes and voice. If nothing else was right in his school world, Sandy was right.
For the second year, with confidence starting to build, it was all about Marcia. She was, after all, the one with the food. "Hurry up, we can't be late, Marcia's waiting for you!", and into the van he'd go, wondering which two cereals he'd get to choose from that morning.
And no matter who greeted him in the morning - Sandi H or Midge or Ericka or Bev or Adam or a student teacher, it was always a smile and always a greeting by name, and a genuine pleasure in seeing the Boy again. And throughout the day, simple kindness - naptime with Holly and music with Sonja included, and the same each afternoon at good-bye, sometimes by the same person from earlier that morning, somehow still smiling.
All wonderful people. Saints. Ah, but there's one more. Last but most certainly not least, what would this Boy be without his Carrie? Other than Mom and I and maybe a handful of relatives, I don't know that any other adult "gets" our Boy like Carrie does. She totally knows him and adores his quirky little mind. That isn't something they teach in Early Childhood education classes, it's just who Carrie is, and we could not have been more fortunate to have her as his primary teacher. I'm going to miss the notes detailing his daily achievements and/or adventures. And I'll miss the conferences where we share a group laugh over the peculiar ways the Boy views his world. Just the thought that someone else delights in him is flat out astounding. She has definitely set a very high bar for his upcoming teachers and has wildly exceeded even our most unrealistic expectations.
And so, now summer begins. I'm sure we'll figure out together, this Boy and I, how to fill our days. And I'm sure I'll be filling the blogosphere with details of our adventures. And next fall when Kindergarten starts, I know it will be fine and fun, with a whole new set of memories and things to love and good teachers and new friends.
But for today, the last day, a huge shout out THANK YOU to everyone at NWC CDC. You will be greatly missed.