After her first day of preschool last week (and by "day" I mean half an hour), my nearly four-year-old daughter was eager to show me the resultant craft project that emerged. As a giddily supportive father I was eager to see and was told that it resided in the refrigerator. What, pray tell, I wondered, could they have done at the first day of preschool that required refrigeration? Let me point out at the outset that my daughter is a genius above all recognizable measures of intelligence anywhere discovered. She is very smart.
So I wondered, is it some artistic creation, some sculptural masterpiece, put together with exotic glues that require cold for stability? Or maybe they have dissected a mouse or a frog and she has identified the parts on the splayed out creature? Ooh, maybe they learned about fermentation and she brewed her father a growler of India Pale Ale! OK, OK, this is preschool. Lower expectations.
Now that summer holidays are finished, parents of schoolaged kids everywhere are thanking/ruing the fact that summer is gratefully/unfortunately over.
I suspect many of us are of two minds on the matter. Parents have been released from the incessant complaints about being bored. But at the same time, they no longer have the relaxed, unscripted, unplanned leave-'em-alone schedule to follow.
It's back to the grindstone for parents of school-aged kids. But for us newish parents, it is a whole new world sending our kids off into the hands of an "other."
Be it organized daycare, preschool or kindergarten in the school system, be it public or private, the day you send your children elsewhere for some systematic play/learning, interesting changes are immediate.
Just how well the little ones are going to listen to and respect the authority of another adult can be a mystery.
In our family, we have had occasional and informal daycare for more than two years for our girl. She attended the Strongstart programs on occasion at a school nearby, but her first foray into being left alone in an organized system began last week when the preschool program begun.
And she loved it from the start.
She seemed to know she was going to love it. This despite the fact that my little girl can be interminably shy in certain situations. (The fact that two little girls who rank among her best friends also attend the class is something that likely made the transition easier.) Part of me wondered, however, just how well she would listen to the teacher-how well she would take direction. There is the new structure, a new place, new peers but, all imporantly, a new overseer other than my wife or me. What our little ones will make of new rules dictated from a new leader, we are never to know as parents.
So what was it that she showed me from the fridge? It was a piece of paper that had been cut with scissors along black lines. It looked like a comb; presumably an exercise in hand-eye co-ordination. An exercise that made sense to me. .. but why the fridge? "My teacher said to go home and put it in the fridge."
"Are you sure she didn't say 'on' the fridge?" "No!" was the adamant response. "She said in the fridge."
Before true, recognizable freethinking is evident in children, it's hard to know if one's offspring will emerge into sheeplike followers or rebellious free spirits. .. or what in between.
Any concern I might have had about how well my little one takes direction is gone.
She may have misheard the teacher, but she sure listened.
What a smart girl.
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