He looked up at me, smiled, and farted.In some ways, I appreciated his not so gentle reminder to not take myself and this moment quite so seriously. After all, he is five and he’s graduating pre-school, not law school. As a parent, there is much more work to be done. But I can already feel my role with him shifting not so subtly, away from the emphasis on basic needs. Increasingly my role at least with Dylan is not to do so much as to step back and try to let him figure it out for himself; that is, to promote the struggle a bit. That in this it is good for him to struggle with the words on the page or the kids on the playground; to learn to use his own internal cues to navigate. It feels so different. It isn’t babywash and diaper crème and stories. It is trickier and more nuanced. He needs me, but less obviously. I have to remember that this is good.
And as I watch him sleeping with his well worn Pooh Bear, I have a full enough perspective to realize just how young he still is. But it does mark the end of a chapter for him and in some ways for me too. Dylan was my first baby to send off to preschool. And we both learned a lot while we were there. As a new mom, I learned to let go. I learned that it was good for him to be with grown ups and caregivers that weren’t me. That actually, that was probably good for both of us. I learned how to pack a lunch. I learned that he’s really smart. But more than that, I was reminded that he’s really kind and that this cannot be taught. That somehow, someway, Phil and I must be doing something right.I have loved this preschool moment for him. It marks a rare chapter in his life that has been truly all about exploration, creativity and play for the sake of play. In preschool, there are no real consequences, no significant expectations. Next year will be bus rides and cafeterias, school plays and recess. There will be the beginning – at least the kindergarten version - of some homework and consequences. From here on out for Dylan, this will creep up on him more and more. I worry that the balance will shift and he will feel more pressure to learn not because it is exciting, but because he is expected to do so. I am hopeful that along the way he will encounter many wonderful educators who will remind him of just how thrilling it can be to discover something new.
And while I have a massive penchant for being overly sentimental about the past to the extent that I forsake the promise and excitement of the future, I want to be careful here. I know there is so much good stuff to come for him. I’ll miss the little guy in preschool he was. But I’m also incredibly excited to get to know better the little guy he’s becoming.I watch him as he sleeps. Clutching his Pooh and his past and dreaming either of his future or Mario Kart. Regardless - we’re ready.