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Preschool Pride

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It seemed appropriate that I would unstrap my two-year-old setting him outside our vehicle, and it being 3:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday without a nap, he would immediately sit down in a huge puddle of water in protest of going to pick his sister up on her last day of preschool. Why shouldn't we arrive slightly late and totally soaked?

While he screamed and kicked and splashed, I plucked him out of the puddle running into the school while other parents proudly held their children's hand smiling and walking away from it. The moments that situation (him kicking and screaming trying to break free of my grasp)happens while I am leaving the school, I fear someone will think I am stealing him; thank God most people know who his mother is. I ran quickly and wished the last day had been Tuesday like I thought.

Two days prior, my intention had been to make something fabulous with my daughter for her teacher Miss Robin, who had helped assure preschool was a bit magical and completely memorable; something every parent hopes for. Yep,a creative something-or-another was theplan, but with two small children, the things Iset outto accomplish don't always happen. Instead, at the last minute, my daughter Destiny picked out a bouquet of flowers at the grocery store giving them to Miss Robin on the second-to-last day of school, on Tuesday; it seemsmy calendar was a bit off.

Tuesday, while I stood outside the door waiting to go in to join my daughter Destiny for t-shirt making and a potluck picnic, one of the parents asked, "Where's Tristan?"

By now they all knew my son by name. Every Tuesday and Thursday we were there just before one o'clock, with as few minutes of standing in the hallway as possible. While signing Destiny up for preschool, I had not considered my son's nap time. I figured an afternoon school session would allow us time to get up, have some breakfast, and not be in a rush. It did do that. It also meant keeping an energetic very stubborn two-year-old from taking his nap. That's the part that caused some problems.

My daughter, who wished every day to be the first to school, would sit next to me saying hi to each of her classmates. I'd smile while chasing my son up and down the hall saying, "No running," and returning him to sit beside his sister. He'd get up again, this time goingto the sign-in sheet excited to show how he can holda penciland scribble. Crouching down, I would pry the pencil from his hand explaining, "Honey, this is not ours."He would thenthrow himself onto the carpet with a high-pitched squeal in octaves most ears should not have to endure. Sure,some daysI tried a stroller and toys to give him somewhere to sit and something to do, butit didn't work.

Certain days he smiled atsome of the kids, but mostly he tried to rip projects off the wall, crawl away, run, or justthrow himself down in the middle of the hallway protesting our being there. Sometimes, I would pick him up. His response was usually windmill kicking followed by a slap which then initiated a talk about how we do not hit, and Tristan would stand in timeout in the nearest corner of the wall. The situation was frustrating and embarrassing, and though I was thankful my daughter was well behaved, I often felt bad that my attention was consumed by my tired son.

"He's at home with his grandparents," I explained to the father wondering where my little challenger was.

And, onmy daughter'snext-to-last day of school, my son enjoyed a day with Grandpa and Grandma while I proudly sat in a much-too-small seat next to my daughter Destinywho decorated a yellow t-shirt with puffy paint and sparkles and animal-shaped stamps. I followed her to the playground while she held my hand skipping around, "Mama, wanna see me swing."

"Yep, just show me where to go."

A few seconds at the swings, then off to the slide we went. She bounced from one thing to the next trying to get in all her at-school activities. Being in preschool had filled her with pride andshe was anxious to show me everything.

Back inside, we walked through the line picking out strawberries and graham crackers and rice crispy treats. Then, we walkeddown the hallways and through the door to find a spot out of the sunshine on a small patch of grass behind the school. Sitting in a circle, she looked up at me often each time with a big smile. And when her teacher called her name and handed her a bottle of bubbles and a homemade graduation certificate, she grinned in my direction. I grinned back taking a few photos; preschool had filled me with pride, too.

Yes, Tuesday was a fabulous day. And Thursday, well, it wasn't as great. Her final day of preschool, I held my son scurrying down the hallway wondering what my daughter must be thinking and worrying about our dripping. Arriving at the preschool room out of breath with tears welling in my eyes, Miss Robin smiled announcing, "Destiny, look who's here."

The last one in the classroom, my daughter looked up shouting, "Mommy!"

She wasn't scared I had forgotten her, or mad I was late because her brother was refusing to get dressed and put his shoes on and strap into his safety seat. She grabbed her coat and backpack, and Miss Robin reminded kindly, "Never worry, we will never leave her here." Then,Miss Robinsaid hi to my sopping wet son.

Relieved that she cared as much about my daughter's school experiences as I do, I smiled, and, I hoped my daughter will remember the next-to-last day of school -that Tuesday, when she had Mommy all to herself and I was so happy to watch all the wonderful things she can do. I hoped, too, that she will remember Miss Robin who went out of her way to make preschool magical and memorable. And, that she will remember how proud I was that despite how frustrating protests and not listening can be, she always enjoyed telling everyoneTristanwas her brother and I was her mom, and she was understanding that each day may not go perfectly; what a feat for a five-year-old.

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