Preschool graduation: it seemed to come up on me really fast.
Wasn't I just pregnant, scheduling a hospital tour? I just planned her first birthday in the park and now she is having her fifth (and planning it herself). I've now officially entered the time warp that parents speak of, and it is really weird! My baby will head of to kindergarten in a few months and suddenly I'm clutching a box of tissues trying to process how my baby turned into kid.
We almost didn't send her to this preschool. Originally I had signed her up for a different preschool and a few months before it started I got an email saying they were relocating and the commute would have been horrible. I was crushed, and in a city like LA not knowing in April where your child will attend preschool in the fall is like showing up to the party a day late. I felt completely unprepared and knew it wasn't easy to get a spot anywhere.
We ended up full circle back at the school that I had been aware of since she was born. It sits in a beautiful park near our house that she and I have gone to since she was born. I started teaching stroller workouts there, then we would play there and we have even had every birthday party to date at this park. I knew about the school and had even applied when she was one (I thought I was in the early planning club then) but then got a call saying it was for people in that area only. One day at the park I noticed a sign saying they had opened it up to non-residents and so I called. I signed her up right then and there. It worked out perfectly. It was close to home, she knew the space well and despite the fact that we knew it would be a tough adjustment for her she stood a great chance of success somewhere at least a little familiar.
Preschool was amazing for all of us. It gave her a huge amount of confidence, independence and her social life sky rocketed. The first few weeks were rocky. She cried every day when we dropped her off. I often joined in on the tears once back in my car alone. I sometimes even got calls to pick her up a little early. I knew progress was being made though when I came to get her early after one of those phone calls and walked in to find her all dressed up in dress up clothes laughing with a group of girls. That was the first moment I saw her as a child. Not as my child, not my baby, but herself. She was giggling, talking and navigating through a game with no adult interaction. I had never before seen this child but I liked her and I was proud to be associated with her and honored to actually be related to her. When she saw me she had this embarrassed smirk because she was caught having fun and didn't want to leave. I left her there and came back later with the other parents for pickup. From that day on I never got a call to come early. She loved it there and felt at home, safe, and very welcome.
She experienced everything from music and baking to reading and problem solving. She got on well with her peers, and soared with accomplishments. The first year at the teachers meetings we were told she could improve her speech a bit and that she still had some separation anxiety issues. This year they had nothing to say that needed work. She had really grown there from a toddler to a kid. Articulate as ever, yesterday we passed a hotel that was circular and she said that it was "really very unique." Every so often she will still mispronounce words. She will say she wants to go for "shushi"and I don't have it in me to correct her. She dances that fine line between a very innocent little girl who still asks a lot of questions to a kid who can do it all herself and knows all the answers.
Her first experience at school has taught me about how wonderful other people can be for your child. Of course the social factor for her, but also the teachers. She had three lovely, sensitive, intuitive women who I trusted with my heart and who never once let me down. Together we turned out a success of an experience and I am beaming ear to ear with pride (with a whole lot of tears running down my face).