Why I Decided Not to Send My Child to Preschool
A more accurate title might be “Why I Decided to Keep My Child With Me His Last Year of Babyhood” because it’s not about the school. It’s about my child and me. It’s a unique relationship, just the two of us. And it’s the very last year we will ever, ever, ever have to spend our days together. Not rushing off in the mornings. Deciding for ourselves what we will do and what we won’t do (actually, I decide what we will do, then his brother delays the plans by knocking a glass of green smoothie all over the walls and carpet). Whatever we do, it’s our last year to do it together.
I came thiiiiis close to enrolling him in a most fabulous nursery school. The very school he will go to for kindergarten and beyond. It’s a magical place to spend a childhood. I’m very happy we’ve found such a beautiful school environment for my kids. But my child is three, going on four. Not school age. As my boys and I were standing in the doorway this morning – me with my coffee, them trying to resist the urge to run out into the rain in their socks – we waved good-bye to Daddy. Another daddy was walking home after dropping his daughter at the local elementary school. He called across the street,” Enjoy these years! They go so fast. Soon, you’ll be driving them to kindergarten every morning. Enjoy it while you can!” This is the sentiment I’ve heard ten thousand times over the last four years. With that kind of consistency, I think parents of older kiddos are onto something.
It got me to thinking: I am absurdly cash-poor at the moment, due to this whole glamorous stay-at-home thing. I left a job that paid me actual money in order to do this one. I might as well take advantage of its main benefit: time with my kids. Why would I give it up when it’s the only reason I’m staying home? Instead, I’m taking the advice of all the parents who no longer have the option, and making the most of it.
My precious first-born baby and I have exactly 15 months left to be free together, meandering down the path of life, hand-in-hand. After that, it’s off to the exciting land of kindergarten and a wider world. Ready or not, here we come! So I’m going to make a list – not an assignment sheet to feel bad about if everything’s not done according to expectation – but a list of things I’d like to do with my sweet boy during our last months at home. I want to look back on this time and know I’ve really made the most it. And I want him to have as rich an experience as he would have had at that wonderful school.
We’ll get out into the world on weekdays when things are less hectic so he can explore and enjoy at his own pace. The Childrens Museum, the zoo, parks, piers, beaches, and visits with family and little friends. We’ll watch the clouds from on top of the car with legs dangling through the sunroof, picnic in the backyard. We’ll bake, garden, and work up the fortitude to admire his bug collection. Ride bikes and climb trees. Crafts at home, travel, and charity work. Hugs any time, and all the time. In short: a fun, peaceful year full of affection and experiences shared by mommy, son, and baby brother.
I will pay attention and notice my sons. The way they have their little conversations, totally independent of their parents. The way their ears are impossibly soft. The way they say, “My Mama,” as they snuggle into me. I will notice the funny things they say and try to remember to write them down. The way they sing, and crack each other up. How they press one another’s buttons and then hug and pat to make up. The way my little guy imitates every move and word my big guy says, whether he understands it or not (mostly not, based on his creative pronunciations). I won’t be able to save this time in a bottle, but I will record it in my memory, and in theirs, the best I can. Our little trio is about to change big time. For now, for these next months, I’m going to savor it like it’s my last chance. Because it is.
As they ALL say about raising our littlest children, “the days are long, but the years are short.” My son and I have only one more year at home together. And it’s going to feel long. And short. And wonderful.