I thought I knew, but I really didn’t, how hard it would be to watch my son go off to preschool. A silly thing, it seems, after all I’ve done it twice before at his two previous schools – the first, Kingdom Kids, which eventually had to close when it lost use of it’s space, and the second, El Cajon Wesleyan Preschool, which he loved so much and gave him, his mom, and me such joy.
Eleven days ago Nolan turned three. Soon after, we would say goodbye to his classmates and teachers at El Cajon Wesleyan before starting today at Sevick School through the public school district. We would miss El Cajon Wesleyan for so many reasons – the teachers who we knew truly loved Nolan so much, seeing him in his first school pictures, getting to see him as a sheep in the Christmas program, and the Christ-centered nurturing he received each day.
Though the hard part wasn’t so much that he would be leaving a Christian environment, because we know that God goes with him wherever he goes. Plus, at Sevick he was going to get increased one-to-one attention to help him increase his communication skills. Part of it for me was knowing that he’d now be in school for five hours a day, five days a week – up from the four hours a day, only twice a week. I’m going to miss my little man. He’s growing up.
This morning we pulled into the school parking lot, got out of the car, and I gave him his Spider-Man lunchbox. Inside, a peanut butter sandwich, lemonade, a bag of mini Fudge Stripes, applesauce and a plastic Cal Kids spoon. With one-year-old brother Jackson in my arms, Nolan walked alongside us with lunchbox in tote. One of his teachers greeted us at the gate. We walked in and I asked Nolan to leave his lunchbox under his teacher’s nametag, which he gladly did. But when we went in the physical education room where the kids were running off some energy before the official start of class, Nolan wanted nothing but to hug me and hold me. But he didn’t cry in this new place. His teacher, Breta, tried to make him feel comfortable. Still, Nolan knew he was here to be dropped off and that in a little while his brother and dad would leave for a bit. We stayed in the PE room a while longer, but he never let go of me. Then Cathy, his speech therapist, suggested we let him get acquainted with her in the classroom setting by doing some speech therapy activities.
Once in the classroom, Cathy handed him a PECS card with her picture on it. (PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System, a picture card system that helps kids communicate through the visual and physical aid of pictures). He instantly took the card and started to look for an envelope or box in which to place it – just like he had been doing the past four months with his speech therapist Deb at All 4 Kids. Sitting down and doing some more familiar speech therapy activities seemed to comfort him in comparison to the bit of chaos in the PE room. During the next couple minutes, he sat, listened, and played. He also said “fish” (his newest word as of last night), “go,” and couple other words.
His four classmates then came into the room and it was circle time. Nolan sat down with very little coaxing, ready for whatever was going to happen next. Breta offered him a gummy fruit, which he quickly took and put into his mouth. But just as quickly he realized he really didn’t like this particular blue one he was given, so he stood up from his seat, took the offending candy into his fingers, and proceeded to look for a trashcan. After I pointed one out, he walked over and threw the candy away. Then in a single motion, he wiped his mouth on his sleeve and his hands on the front of his clean yellow shirt – now yellow and blue and just a little green.
“Okay, Nolan, bye-bye, I’ll be back soon!” I said, kneeling down to give him a kiss. Nolan obliged as he always does – three times!
As Jackson and I waved goodbye, Nolan’s sweet voice filled the room, “buh-bye, buh-bye….”
There was my little boy, my little man, waving goodbye.
“I’ll be back soon to pick you up!” And I left.
As soon as I started the car, I wanted to be back already. But he’s a big boy now. He’s growing up.