My mother said to me early on, when the Six Year Old was still drooling all over himself, that as soon as our children are born we begin the process of givng them over to the world. I was a little indignant at the time and felt that after fifty-five hours of labor and seven stitches, "my baby" was mine and the world would have him when I said it would be so... I thought it was her way of saying I was being too overprotective and controlling. My blood boiled at her suggestion that "the world" would be any part of the marvelous human being I was setting out to shape. At the very least, I thought she meant I was hogging him and the rest of the world was being denied the opportunity bask in his delightfulness as I did everyday. I was a friggin idiot.
What she meant was that we are responsible for the people we turn loose into the world. Their contact with the rest of humanity is inevitable and our actions, our choices dictate what those experiences will be like for both our children and those interacting with them. We are responsible for creating citizens of the world... people who can function without melting down at the first sign of disappointment, people who choose to raise others up instead of tearing them down, people who accept responsibility for a mistake and seek ways to make amends... This should be the focus in families and it is most definitely the focus of my preschool classroom.
Each September I size up 12 - 15 new citizens of the world and find that more than a few have terrorist capabilities. I will no doubt find something delightful and worth cherishing in each and every child, and it is in fact the classroom terrorists who often draw me in right away. (I suspect this may be because I was a bit of shit when I was about four years old, as well.) The statistics are totally behind this, as in 10 years and what I'm ball-parking to be about 150 children, there have only been about 5 I'd never want to see again.
What preschoolers need to know and will find out during the first week of school:
We will play! We will learn (while we're playing)! We will laugh! We will cry (it's inevitable). We will hurt, we will heal... We will try, we will fail. We will try again and we will fail again... We will make friends and we will find out we don't like some things about some people. We will tell them. They will cry. We will cry. We'll work it out. We will try again and find out we are AWESOME!! We will have big feelings and we will figure out together what to do with them. There will be big voices sometimes... We will learn to listen to the big voices and the small ones. There will be messes. There will be "have-to's." We may not like the "have-to's" but we will still be required to do them. We will find out there are all kinds great of things we can do by ourselves. And I will be there to encourage you and help you figure it out. My name is not "mommy" at preschool, although by April I will hear that several times an hour until it's time to go home. I am not going to do it for you... even if it's hard, but I will sit with you, as you come to understand that YOU CAN. You will hear my angry voice, and my laugh, and see my smile and see my WTF face more than once a day... Because I have all the same feelings you do. And P.S. it's my job to be impervious to all the bullshit you feed your parents. Welcome! You can! You will! And believe me when I tell you that if it isn't safe or kind, YOU WON'T. Let's have fun!
Parents, the above is written for your benefit too, but here's your Need To Know list 2010 -2011:
- ALWAYS say "goodbye" - sneaking out is dirty pool, and not appreciated by your child or his teacher. Give a 2 minute warning, ONE hug or kiss and a confident "I'll see you soon." and then hit the bricks. You can call from the parking lot, or ask the teacher to call you when your child is calm.
- After week 1, allow your child to hang up his backpack and get undressed by himself. He doesn't need you to do it anymore. We work hard to foster independence because it makes kids feel good and powerful and proud. You don't want to be that mom cutting up her daughter's steak at the rehearsal dinner, right??
- Mommies and daddies of "Princesses", please note: Dress shoes and high heeled flip flops = chin-chopping, concussion-creating, tooth-loosening, America's Funniest Videos-style wipe outs. Save the effin tap shoes and patten leathers for dance class. And yes, I will think you're a total idiot if you bring her in with dress shoes on and say you couldn't get her to take them off...
- No preschooler on the planet needs a friggin umbrella. If it rains, we stay in. Please leave your eye-poking, classroom distraction in your car.
- Your child is the center of YOUR world... as it should be. Here, our focus is COMMUNITY. We will enjoy the unique qualities your child brings to the GROUP and celebrate our classroom family in many ways. That being said, this is a classroom not a fucking Chuck E. Cheese. We'll sing for your kid and make a crown on his birthday. Save your cake and pinata for the backyard.