Kate Becomes a Duckling

Posted: October 26th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Miss Kate | No Comments »

Kate started preschool on Tuesday. As a 2-year-old, she’s considered a Duckling, and in future years will be a Gosling, a Mallard, etc. It’s a classroom naming metaphor my mother–the self-appointed patron saint of ducks–would no doubt embrace.

Carrying her lunch box and decked in her new school clothes–a tan corduroy jumper, orange quilted vest, leggings and white sneaks–she could have been me going off to what what was then called nursery school, circa 1970. Of course, she wasn’t proudly toting her new Trapper Keeper. Then again, I didn’t have one until I was a bit older too. (But who can think about back-to-school without thoughts of Trapper Keepers dancing in your head?)

Since Kate’s filling a mysterious and miraculous last-minute opening in a highly-demanded preschool, she’s joining the school year midstream. All the other kids have already played out their adjustment issues. And now they’re clued into what to do at circle time, know the words to a handful of songs, and have likely already exchanged some germs, bites, and good times.

From the parental perspective, the spate of stories about parents who had to peel their kids off them to leave, or whose kids nonchalantly waved them off but the mother still bawled in her car in the parking lot over the fact that “little Jordan is such a big boy now”–all those stories have waned by now too.

I couldn’t help but wonder how Kate and I would play out this milestone duet.

After a constant stream of “preschool this/preschool that” banter in the drive over, once inside Kate held my hand with eyes wide open and mouth clamped shut. But after a tour of her cubbie hole and the sign-in sheet, a teacher easily lured Kate over to a table to decorate a mini-pumpkin with one part glitter and three parts paste. With a quick smooch I was outta there with no drama in sight.

As I fumbled through the labyrinth of classrooms to find a door out I passed by a window into the room where Kate was showing the craft gods who was boss. For a second I wondered if this would be my emotional moment–looking in on her blond pigtailed cuteness when she was oblivious to my presence.

Nope. No tears, no “there’s my little girl gettin’ so big heartache.” I’d figured she would groove on the preschool scene, and I was right. Teacher Lilia even gushed to me when I picked up Kate four hours later that she’d never seen a toddler transition so well on their first day–something she tells all parents?

Oh Miss Kate you continue to amaze and impress us. Muttering the alphabet–all the letters, and in all the right places!–while I give you a bath. Commending me after I pee with a “Good job, Mama!” Telling me about your new school friend, Ben, who you’ve likely already hug-tackled with your unbridled toddler glee.

Before we know it you’ll be questioning our politics, despairing our technical ineptitude and no longer volunteering information on Ben, or Henry, or whoever it is who has captured your attention.

Even though I made it through your first day of preschool, I still have plenty of parking lot crying in me for other times in your life. So prepare to be embarrassed.

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