How to Teach My Son: A Courtesy Letter to the Preschool World

Priceology / Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The countdown has begun. Avengers lunch boxes line the shelves as though in anticipation for the one-boy parade that is my son, my beautiful curl-capped child who does nothing short of controlling the weather in our house.

Photo on 11-25-13 at 7.46 PM #6

Preschool World, I have a thirteen-year-old daughter whom I’ve sent your way before, and I have a one-year-old daughter who I’ll send your way again, but this year I’m sending my three-year-old son, and I’m a little raw about it.

I visited months ago. You thought I was interested in the art on the bulletin boards and how often he’d get music. You showed off a colorful play space with instruments lining the walls, touted the show-and-tell events where we could see everything they’d been working on.

Meanwhile, I counted fire exits, calculated the child-to-teacher ratio, asked questions about how much outside time and free play he’d get, and used that chance to check out the gate situation and see how many yards away the parking lot was from the street. I know precisely how fast he moves, so I spent those extra moments making mental bets about your speed and whether or not you’d catch him before he reached the double yellow line.

You see, we have a runner…

a climber…

a wrestler…

a pirate…

a soldier…

a cowboy…

an explorer…

a detective…

and a tinkerer on our hands.

You and I have supermuch to celebrate about him, his bold ways, and how he’ll change the world someday.

But I’m afraid you’re necessarily behind the curve. I’ve been preparing for every single today for the last three years and studying him since he first began barrel-rolling in utero so hard I believed he might think me a thief’s getaway car speeding toward the state line.

Not crawling until nine months, we thought he was a late bloomer. It turns out he’d been casing the joint since birth, noting our weaknesses and studying our alliances so that he could undo us at a moment’s notice.

With us unsuspecting still, he postponed walking until fourteen months, opting instead for a military crawl which benefitted him with increased speed, floor agility, and our reduced visibility. Staying out of range, he found these additional months proved helpful as he built upper body strength at exponential rates compared to his peers.

His perpetually dirty hands meant we’d be lax with removing his pacifier, preferring it to stray fingers, so he relied on it longer than most and played up the artifice as a stand-in for something more serious, like an old man’s cigar he might chew on his molars or a toothpick he’d fiddle with to keep his mouth occupied and preserve his taciturn guise.

This is to say that he got us all right where he wanted us.

Then he took us for a ride.

You’re good people, I know, Preschool World. But you must be naive. You’ve asked me for a physical form and proof of immunizations. I’m to submit them at tomorrow’s orientation, but I recommend we make an even trade and maybe you can slide your own across the desk at the same time. Just as you need a little insurance that he’s ready; I need a little assurance of my own.

I understand it’s not standard, but you see I know his ways, his deep-chocolate eyes, his double-dimpled smile with teeth spaced enough to let out the laughter. I know the megaphone in his throat, how loud it can get and why. I know how many inches his curl can stretch before it falls into his eyes, and I know how to coil it behind a hair that will go behind his ear so that he can keep playing.

I’m telling you I know how pink his cheeks will be when he will ask to go inside, and I know he will only want to stay inside to see whether he’s missing something, and then upon realizing that nothing inside will ever be as fascinating as the world outside, he will insist on going out.

I’m telling you he prefers the scary stories to the happy ones but will change his mind before the climax if you do not include at least a passing reference to a Musketeer.

I’m telling you he knows his manners but may not use them. When he’s roaring, it’s because he’s performing like a lion. He doesn’t want to scare you. He wants to impress you. He doesn’t know there’s a very fine line between the two. You must know there’s a very fine line between the two.

You must love him. You must. Never resist that. It’s the only way to get through.

Move with that love like a current.

You’ll be marveling at his imagination and energy, but don’t miss the fact that my whole world rests in every cell of his 29-pound body.

He will be work, but I promise he’ll be worth it.

And, Preschool World, I’m believing both those things about you.

Atticus’s Mom

P.S. He is bone-skinny, and sometimes he points his finger and says, “Stick ’em up. Let go of my friends!” I promise he eats, and that’s from Toy Story 3. Please don’t call child services.

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