Preschool graduations. I admit, I have always thought they were a bit ridiculous.
It’s just preschool. They are starting out their school lives. How can one graduate when one is just beginning?
It’s just preschool. Why do we need to have ceremonies for this? Not everything has to be a big deal.
It is just preschool. They basically played all year.
What was the curriculum? Painting, gluing, singing, counting.
They just learned to share, listen, take turns, develop fine motor skills.
They only learned how to make friends, keep friends, speak clearly, open their own snacks. Print their name. Be away from mom and dad.
Why are we celebrating this past year? It’s just preschool after all.
Just preschool, where their teachers invested in their young lives as they ate their playdoh cookies. It was one or two mornings per week where they were stretched to try new things and think outside of their own experiences. Sitting at the carpet taught them mutual respect and how to follow a new routine. Planting bean seeds in paper towels and baggies fostered wonder and a sense of nurturing.
Maybe graduations aren’t necessary, but big things happen throughout our lives and they need to be marked. I think we’ve gotten carried away with graduations in particular (preschool, kindergarten, grade six, grade 8, grade 12, need I go on?) but reflecting on a year of growth and learning? That matters.
Pausing to say good-bye to a season of education or a milestone of life, let’s keep doing that. Minus the formal wear.
Even if it’s just preschool.
(Thank you, teachers of all grade levels. What you do matters and we are grateful).
I waved my Bigs goodbye as my Littles waited at home, playing. This is the point of my life now, two worlds within our own little family life. And it hurts, and it is difficult, and it is exciting.
This year I have been home with our youngest son. A few weeks ago, his kindergarten-age brother was home with us due to an appointment. Bearded Husband waited at home with the two youngest while I walked the oldest two up the street to school.
The seven-year-old immediately put his hand in mine, while the nine-year-old was somewhat surprised when I took his hand. “It’s not often I get to walk with just you two,” I said as way of explanation. And I miss it.
Daily I’m torn between the needs of the four. The youngest two need more practical help and they all crave my attention and time. It is challenging to keep a balance.
“You don’t have to walk us all the way, we’ll can do it ourselves,” said my firstborn and his brother nodded in agreement. It’s not far, this walk to school, but that day the distance across the field felt like a portal. It was the path leading to independence, self-reliance, and growing up. A world apart from me.
I was glad, and proud, and I was sad. I miss you.
I miss your little hand grabbing mine. I miss you needing me to help you with your zipper. I miss you running and jumping up to squeeze me around my neck.
I need to savor this time while they’re on the cusp of growing up, becoming too big to hold my hand.
I returned home, opened the front door and immediately was transported into a different world. A world of of booster seats, endless games of Candyland, and snuggling on the couch with a picture book. Piggyback rides, and play doh, and bubbles.
I love that the Bigs start the coffee in the morning for me. I love when they empty the dishwasher without being asked. I love when they offer to push the youngest on the swings. Their sense of humour and the running jokes we’ve developed – I love it. I love the young men they are becoming
But I miss it.
I miss their small hands and the smell of baby shampoo. I miss the days when they could fit on my lap. But they are getting older. And so I will let go, but in increments.
That day, the day they decided to walk on their own, I stood on the sidewalk until they reached the school yard, waving every time they turned to check if I was still there. And I was, waving to my boys who were far enough away that they couldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
Tears because I miss it, but I love who they are becoming.
It hurts, and it is difficult, but it is exciting, always exciting.
“I’m pretty sure he’s saying ‘frog’,” my kind-hearted friend said.
Before I even fully turned around, I was quite certain he was not saying “frog”. That’s not typically the word that gets spray painted on a slide. At least I’ve never seen graffiti that reads “Frog U” or “FROG”.
He was definitely reading graffiti and sharing his new found knowledge with his other brothers and random park-goers. And it was definitely not “frog”.
I called my naive son over and asked him what he was saying. Don’t worry, I played it cool. He proudly announced his new word. And no, he’d never heard it before.
So I called over his older brothers, too and we quietly chatted about appropriate vocabulary. I don’t know why I was surprised that they already knew the word, but I was pleased that they have chosen not to use it. I informed them that Daddy and I know all the bad words and we choose not to use them (most of the time) and we hope they would make the same choice. Never mind how many bad words there are, the point is the we don’t say them.
As I was explaining this, I could see the five-year-old quietly sounding it out to himself, so I knew he was not getting the message. That’s when I told him, “you aren’t in trouble for saying it tonight, you didn’t know, but if you say that word at school THEY WILL SEND YOU HOME IT’S A REALLY BIG DEAL.”
There, that should do it.
All is well, he knows that it’s a word we avoid using and that it can hurt people’s feelings. Nicely done, Mom. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. Yup, no kid of yours will be a swearer.
We drove home separately, the five-year-old excited to have Daddy all to himself. Later, as we wrapped up the bedtime routine, Bearded Husband casually turned to me and said, “On the ride home, he told me he learned a new word at the park. He was pretty proud of how he sounded it out and demonstrated it to me three times.”
I thought perhaps they were playing a game of chicken with me or had colluded to see how long I could stand it. But I was wrong.
After eight days every male in this household said, “what cup?”
But I’m getting ahead of myself, especially if you weren’t following along during the whole debacle.
What Cup? I don’t see any cup
One morning as I tidied up the breakfast mess I noticed a blue plastic cup under the slight overhang of kitchen cupboard. This also happens to be the highest traffic area in our house. My first instinct was to pick it up and return it to its home with the other colourful kids dishes (after a wash, of course, rest easy, it’s safe to eat here). But then I thought, “No.”
“No, I’m tired of picking up random things the boys leave around. No, I have gathered up enough dirty socks left on the coffee table, Lego on the bathroom counters, hoodies on the steps. Enough. The boys have walked by that spot no less than six times already without bothering to pick it up, so I won’t either. Because principles.”
And there it sat.
One full day.
Two days. That’s when I started to document and fully committed not to pick up that cup.
It hurt. Trust me. It took all my self-restraint not to pick it up. BUT I HELD ON.
My Facebook community started chiming in, with some asking for my home address to take care of this business themselves. But I WOULD NOT BE MOVED.
And there it sat, collecting dust and missing its cup friends.
Day Six my friend was over for coffee and in less than ten minutes of being here she said, “hey, this was on the floor” and had the cup in hand. To which I gently replied, “PUT THAT CUP BACK I AM DOING SOME SERIOUS SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.” She may or may not return.
By Day Seven I decided to change things up a bit. So I added a Hershey Kiss. I thought this way I would know if the males in this house truly didn’t see the cup or were choosing to ignore it. And it was American Hershey, so you know I meant business.
The cup remained.
Some friends on social media suggested upping the ante, perhaps with cash. My plan was to add something every day until it was discovered. So on Day Eight I included a loonie (that’s Canadian for dollar). Once again, I did this within the presence of my family. We left for the walk to school and then – EVERYTHING CHANGED.
I returned home with Little who said he was thirsty. As we took our shoes off I said I’d get him a drink in a second. He was only steps ahead of me. “That’s ok. I found a cup right here!” he chirped and held up The Cup.
“Where did you get that?” I asked him, playing it cool.
“On the floor,” he replied.
“Was there anything else on the floor?” I inquired.
Oh, the game had changed. Who could have removed the candy and money, but left the cup? My number one suspect was Bearded Husband. I determined I would not give him the satisfaction of a text asking him, oh, no, two could play it this way. I would Wait. Him. Out.
And then the game changed again. My friend texted to tell me that a coworker strode into the staff room, walked up to BH and said, “JUST PICK UP THE CUP ALREADY” and then walked out. BH was perplexed and our friend told him I was doing a social experiment and not to worry about it. “Was I supposed to ask her about her hair or something?” he asked.
So it was not Oblivious Bearded Husband. The mystery prevailed. I thought I’d have to give up, but not before interrogating all the other males in the house first. Denials and confusion abounded.
Finally at dinner time we brought our various stories together and I explained what had been going on. “What cup?” all five of them asked. ALL FIVE OF THE PEOPLE WHO WALKED BY THAT CUP FOR EIGHT DAYS. Except Little changed his story and said, “Oh, yeah, the blue cup on the floor that had the money and the New Work chocolate.”
Hold on, New Work chocolate? Coin? This kid knew more than he was saying.
“Did you see those things in the cup?”
“Where are they?”
“I don’t know. Where are they?” he replied. Then he seemed to have a flash of memory and started opening kitchen drawers. After a few minutes of baffling conversation where he repeatedly asked me where he had put them, we concluded that he snagged the treats, hid them, then forgot their location before he even asked me for that fateful drink. All because he wanted to eat the chocolate himself.
If you need me, I’ll be sobbing quietly as I pick up random game pieces and underwear off the basement floor.
When I was a kid, my dad would intermittently pop little notes in my lunch bag. “Daaaad. That’s so embarrassing” I would moan after finding one of his I love you, Princess! post-its. (He also liked to torment me by cutting my sandwiches into 8 or more pieces, but that’s a story for another day).
Confession: I acted like it bothered me to discover these written displays of affection, but I secretly liked it. You’re never too old to be surprised at lunch time. Who doesn’t appreciate an unexpected note of encouragement?
Recently I realized that although I occasionally send similar notes to my boys, I could improve my performance in this area. Pinterest will tell you that you should use hand-crafted paper, calligraphy, and flowery rhymes to create odes of love to your offspring, but I’m here to tell you that any gesture is valued. I’ve recommitted to speak love into the lives of my children on a more frequent basis. Won’t you join me?
Here are a few samples, to inspire you on your Affection Journey.
I like to have a theme, but it’s not essential. You be you.
The direct approach is always in style.
Above all, be specific.
Are you with me? Let’s do this.
Have an inspired note you’ve sent with your little angel? Share it over on my Facebook page and help inspire other like-minded parents. Alright, alright, commiserate, we can commiserate together.