Oh, man, were we ready. New shirts, new shoes, new teachers, new friends. Preschool, here we come.
After our preview visit earlier this week, Tucker was most thrilled with the giant cleaner fish in the aquarium, who sucks the scum off the walls and the shiny stones inside the tank. Tyler was most looking forward to learning more about "the little black boy in the pink dress." (I saw no such child, but Tyler talked quite a bit about 'him.' I suspect it was a little girl in a brown and pink dress, as those are the often interchanged words in his vocabulary.)
Finally, this morning arrived, and we were up bright and early, ready to embrace the day. First Day Bliss.
Tucker gave Tyler a pep talk all the way to preschool, reminding him that although he is in PreK now, he most assuredly remembers what preschool is like. He gave him some pointers on routines, kindness, and obedience, which were far more helpful than anything I could say - not because I don't know, but because Tyler trusts Tucker as the reigning expert on such things.
We arrived at preschool, I delivered them to their classrooms. (Tucker found the giant fish still swimming and sucking around the tank, and Tyler didn't find the boy he had remembered, but he was enamored with the train table and the microscope instead.)
I seem to be in the very small minority in the world of moms, but I didn't feel sad today. I seem to be hardwired to embrace the next stage, rather than grieve the passing of the one before. I regularly checked my emotional thermometer as today approached, and it remained solidly in place: "Nope. Still not sad. Let's do this."
They were all smiles and waves as I left. After each farewell, I disappeared beyond their view, and I invisibly watched them enter their new communities. Their separate communities: new friends, new teachers, new chapters.
Suddenly, a lump began to swell in my throat... not out of sentiment or loss, but - really and truly - out of such joy and pride. You did it, sweet boys. Go get 'em today, my little preschoolers.
And then - oh, and then - I marched myself straight away to my favorite coffee shop. I unpacked, settled in, and made myself very much at home in this scene that shall become my work space, five hours a week, for many, many months to come.
For two and a half hours. I read, I wrote, I breathed. I began to embrace the beauty of quiet, hands-on, boundless streams of thought and creativity. If one of my dreams comes true, a novel will be born of this space. Today, I began to give breath to that balloon of a dream.
At 11:30, and not a moment sooner, I packed up and went to pick up my boys. From their first day of school, of course.
They were all smiles upon my return. Tucker was listening to a story. Tyler was playing a game he later called "Dice" but seemed to involve a large square pillow. They both ran to me with hugs and heaps of stories to tell.
But, our milestone was not yet complete, and this is the very best part. Before we left the PreK classroom, Tucker said, "Mommy, I need to go to Tyler's classroom. I need to say thank you."
With clear confidence, he marched right down the hall to Tyler's classroom (formerly his own), stood in the doorway and called, "Miss Emily? Thank you. Thank you very much for taking care of my brother today."
Her eyes met mine for the split-second that held paragraphs, and then she said, "Well, you're welcome, Tucker. And how was PreK? Are they treating you okay down there?"
"Yep. Real good. Real good."
"Okay, buddy. Have a good day, then. Bring Tyler back on Thursday."
That's when I felt those tears making their sneaky debut. My little boy, five years after I wondered how this journey would go, just showed clarity, confidence, and gratitude. Gratitude on behalf of someone else, no less (even if that someone is the brother whom he occasionally hits, ignores, and yells at).
And so, I have two preschoolers now. Happy little preschoolers with stories to tell, letters and numbers to learn, and songs to sing.
Bring it on, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We all welcome you.