I took Paul to his orientation at preschool yesterday morning and it got me all excited. For him, because he went right in with no hesitation. The world is his toybox and he's generally unafraid to get in there and explore. It's a terribly convenient trait to have in a kid, to be able to bring him into a new situation and not worry too much about how he'd adjust. I think he's going to love preschool--who wouldn't? It's learning and it's playing and eating snacks and taking naps and having friends and being in love with your teacher. Wouldn't it be great if we all could live like that? (Note: this is NOT an endorsement of adult preschool. That stuff is not cute.)
I also got excited about the administrative aspect of it. There is a part of me that loves calendars and planning and organization and supplies, most especially when somebody is doing it for me and all I have to do is plug it in and adhere to it. I grumbled about the huge amount of supplies we had to buy (easily $200 worth, including the mandatory extra gym shoes and nap mat fee) but I also kinda loved checking things off the list and packing them up all carefully. I loved looking at the rules and seeing when Paul's up for snack day and hearing about the folder that will live in his back pack that will be occasionally filled with information I need to know. I loved knowing that he is going to have his own world in there that I won't be in but I can be a little part of its organization.
What gave it a little surreal shimmer at orientation is that he's starting preschool at the place where I went to elementary school. I am still very close with several people I went to school with, so those experiences are relived frequently. After orientation Paul played on the playground and, like many aspects of parenthood, it was like a time machine. I was back in that parking lot where late summer weather feels a way that it feels noplace else, where even the bees fly a particular way. I was back in the school cafeteria where I did talent shows and ate with my friends. But nobody sees me there now as a student (except maybe for Mr. Onofrey, the longstanding, tough and beloved English teacher who is not allowed to retire until my kids both have him) and that's crazy too. I might be projecting but I felt a tiny sense of "How did we get here?" from the parents around me, and I felt that especially, coming back to where I started. I felt like I was wearing a parent costume in front of the other kids, parents and teachers.
I feel like the typical thing to say about your kid moving to a new phase of life like this is that it makes me sad but I'm not sad at all--it probaby helps that preschool is closer to daycare, that I know it won't be a difficult adjustment for him, that if things go well, this will be Paul's home for the next ten years. But I'm excited for him, and, even though it's weird, for me to wear this new costume.