June is a time of graduations for students who have spent years working hard learning and improving themselves. So what business does my five year old have in graduating from preschool you may ask.
Graduation isn’t just about getting a diploma. It’s about the marking and passing of time. It’s about recognizing the next phase in someone’s life. Graduation is about saying goodbye to what was and embracing what will be.
For the past seven years, I have been taking at least one of my two sons to a regional day care, which is an accredited learning center with NAEYC (The National Association for the Education of Young Children). There, my boys have had the most amazing learning and social experiences — more than I could have ever given or created for them at home. And trust me, we still do a lot of cool stuff at home!
When I took my first son, Vman, to the school, he couldn’t wait to get rid of me every day. I think my feelings would have been more hurt if I didn’t know just how excited he was to get to “play” and he didn’t want to waste any time with that lovey dovey stuff. I used to joke with the staff that, even though my son wasn’t talking yet, if he could have he would have said, “Don’t let the gate hit you on the way out.” He was ready to rock ‘n roll, and this mama would only be in the way. But don’t worry. I always got happy smiles at pick up.
When I had my second child, Hbomb, it was a little tougher to let him go. He started in the baby room, crawling over the “obstacle course,” grabbing toys left and right and not slowing down for even a nap. One of my favorite photos is of him passed out on the floor with a toy in each hand. He would literally be in go mode until he just passed out. He’s still that way, falling asleep with toys and books in his bed because this child just can’t turn off his brain.
Through the years, I have made some wonderful friends — smart, funny, amazing, engaging, enlightening, supporting women. In the beginning, we were just moms muddling through and trying to juggle the many facets of our lives. Seeing each other during drop-offs and pick-ups, we slowly became a band of women who still support each other to this day. We watched our children grow with each other — have “crushes,” rivalries, bad days, joyous victories and scary moments. We watched how our own teachings at home filtered through our children to the other kids around them and vice versa. We have become our own inclusive community, separate from the school itself.
As our children aged and moved from one room to the next, we have had some wonderful teachers. Some have bonded so closely with our kiddos that we see them at birthday parties and family gatherings. We even talk about them at home and laugh about what they would think of my kiddo’s crazy hair or his latest art piece. When my toddler son was biting at least one person a day, it was the director who worked with me to try to figure out what was going on. It eventually led us to learning Vman has Sensory Processing Disorder and getting him the help he needed. These women were not just caretakers. They gave their hearts and souls to growing our kids. They became a part of our team in raising our children, and my kids are so much better off for having the additional love and different insights they brought to the table.
I am so excited to move on to the next phase of our lives; however, I find it hard to imagine not driving to the center twice a day, every week. It has become such an ingrained part of my routine, I fear I will feel a little bit lost for a while.
My son may be graduating from the school, but actually the parents are graduating as well. Many of us have our last one leaving the center, which means we won’t have a reason to return. It is truly the end of an era.
I’m not one to cry. But I do think I may shed a tear at Hbomb’s graduation. It will be a bittersweet goodbye to a phase in our lives and a place that has shaped us in more ways than I can probably recognize right now. I am thankful to have found such a center as well as such a fabulous group of parents who inspire me every day.