Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Monday, January 07, 2008
"I'm going to sneak away, now" I whispered to Archer's teacher, just as Archer was making himself comfortable with the other boys and girls at the snack table.
"Sneaking out is a bad idea," she said. "Then he'll think you left him. Tell him goodbye, instead. Tell him that you'll see him in a few hours."
"But he'll cry!"
"Yeah, I know. They always do. But after a while he'll be fine. And pretty soon he won't cry at all. You'll see."
I crouched down next to Archer who was enjoying drinking his water from a Dixie cup.
"Archer? I have to go now but I'll pick you up in a few hours, okay? Have fun at school! Bye-bye!"
"Bye-bye," Archer said, as I scurried away.
Don't look back. Don't look back. Don't look back...
But of course... Because I couldn't help it, I looked back. A frown was forming on his face and I knew any second he would cry. I pushed through the front door just in time to miss hearing his wails.
His preschool was the one and only school we looked at, a little Montessori school up the road. I didn't even know what Montessori meant, to be honest. I still don't really. I just liked the teachers and the children and had a feeling it was a keeper. I liked that the school was painted red and the schoolyard had an area of dirt for the kids to roll around in. I liked that the children were from all backgrounds. I liked that classes didn't believe in parent-carpooling for fieldtrips, instead taking the children to and fro by way of the Metro bus. I liked that there was nothing neurotic or phony about the place. It was laid back. As preschool should be, me thinks.
I never bought into the whole preschool hysteria. Maybe I missed the gene, but I just don't get it at all. Reminds me of waiting in line for an hour outside the "cool club" which is only "cool" because Jared Leto's band played there once or something. In my experience the "coolest" clubs usually suck. But hype is powerful and parents want to do the right thing for their kids at all costs and sometimes that means visualizing the emperor's robes. (I'm not discounting the probability that I too will compliment the emperor on his invisible platinum jock-strap. I've most definitely done it before. )
After leaving Archer, I sat outside the school in my car for several minutes, waiting for the teacher to come get me but she didn't come. So I drove to the gym and worked out. I went home and took a long shower. Wrote some emails. Did some errands. Had a quiet afternoon to myself, checking the clock only sixty-seven (thousand) times. Not bad.
When I went to pick Archer up he didn't see me right away so I stood in the back of the class and watched him. He was eating his lunch quietly, surrounded by the other children. He was smiling and humming and pointing. He was happy as I've ever seen him.
"Archer. You're mommy is here," one of the little girls in Archer's class screamed.
All the children waved. "Hi, Archer's mommy!"
(Last month Archer and I visited the school two days a week to get him acclimated, which was why all the kids knew be my name. And by name I mean "Archer's Mommy")
Archer looked up from his lunch and smiled at me.
"Mommmmmy!!!" he shrieked, running to me. He put his little head on my shoulder and looked up at me again. "Aw, Mommy yuv."
Then he proceeded to drag me around the room, pointing out a puzzle and a peg board and showing me the rug he sat on for storytime, before waving to his teacher and the other children and saying, "bye, bye cuel!"
On the way home I asked him what he thought of preschool and he pointed out the window.
"Cuel! Cuel! Cuel!" he shrieked. "Cuel!"
He was beaming with pride and so was I. We both made it out relatively unscathed. Some tears shed on both sides of the school-door but that was to be expected.
"Gimme five!" I said.
Already one-step-ahead of the game, Archer held out both hands and gave me ten.