Change is in the air!
Tiny green buds and tiny green leaves are on the trees. Pink and white dogwoods are spreading their branches, and have you seen the azaleas? But mostly there is just yellow dust, otherwise known as Georgia pollen all over everything outside. I hung my sheets out and now I’m worried that everyone will be sneezing while they sleep.
But things are changing in other ways too. The school year is ending and Mary will be leaving the preschool and going to elementary school in the fall. One might think that I have mixed feelings about this. That I am somehow sad to see the end of this phase of her childhood. That I may shed tears on her first day of school next year.
Yeah, well … tears of joy, possibly.
Wow, that sounds harsh, and I’m sorry for those of you who think I am uncaring. Unfeeling. Unsentimental. But let me put things into perspective for you. I have been at that preschool for over sixteen, almost seventeen years. Six. Teen. Years. I honestly think if Mary got in the truck, buckled herself in and I put the transmission in gear, the Yukon would happily drive itself there. There has not been a school week that I haven’t driven to that school at least six to ten times. And, before any of you think I am too cynical, I have loved every single year. I love the school. It has been wonderful and nurturing and just the right balance between church and academics, and I would do it all over again.
But it is time.
Much like this time last year when Lucy was preparing to leave for college (and if that sentence right there doesn’t illustrate my point, I don’t know what will – one in college, one in preschool and all those in between). She had reached a point in her life when she was just ready to move on. Mary is ready to move on and move up.
Mainly though, I am ready to move on and move up. I think I have a reached a point in my life where I am too old for preschool. I don’t care about making Mary look precious for stuff. I don’t care about baking cookies and decorating them so they look like turkeys or Easter Bunny bums or whatever else people on Pinterest can come up with. Its sad, I know but the battles I fight with Mary don’t include what she’s wearing (as long as she’s covered), if her shoes are on the right feet (hey, she did it herself, right?), whether her socks match (socks are socks), and what her hair looks like (as long as it is reasonably, and by reasonable, I mean within 2 days, clean). I want to make sure she’s warm, or cool enough, that her shoes won’t trip her when she runs in the gym, that her fingernails are reasonably short and clean, that she eats the right food, and that she treats others with respect and love, kindness and generosity. Other than that, bring on the Spiderman costume, the Batman costume, or the Flash costume that has a hole in the seam (at least she wore underwear that day)!
The perfect example of this happened yesterday, which by all accounts was a not so good day.
It was Spring Picture day at the preschool. We had been sent home notes by the long suffering, way under-appreciated preschool teachers reminding us parents and telling us that the class picture would be taken and if we wanted an individual picture, that could be done as well. I only buy one set of pictures a year from the school system and those are in the spring. So, I actually had a plan for Mary, to bathe her and wash her hair yesterday morning so that I could brush it tangle free and let it dry naturally. Mary’s hair, being ringlet curly needs extra attention. I hadn’t planned on something specific to wear, but I was going to help her get dressed and I was going to send in a note saying I wanted an individual picture that focused mainly on her face and not as much on her torso. I really did want a picture.
Then we got a 6am text that a dear friend and neighbor had passed away suddenly that morning. Everything changed as phone calls and texts and emails had to be sent out and plans had to be made around my newly bereaved friend and her kids. I spent some of my morning driving kids to school, and went to see her and cry and laugh and cry some more. When I got home in time to get Abby and Mary to school, Abby had gotten Mary dressed, had made her lunch, and we were on our way! (Yay Abby!) Abby was dropped off at the middle school and it wasn’t until I got to the preschool that I remembered.
Little girls dressed in pink and yellow and green with matching bows and shiny shoes. Boys in khakis, oxford shirts, Bucks, seersucker suits and ties! Adorable of course, all of them. They looked like a Belks commercial. They looked like little flowers. And here comes Mary, dressed in her UGA quarterback football jersey that we bought last fall on a trip to see Lucy in Athens, jeggins and her green and black (read: boy shoes that I got on clearance that she loves) sneakers.
What’s a mom to do?
I texted her teacher this morning with an apology and explained what had happened. Mary’s teacher is a friend of mine, and has never batted an eyelash at anything Mary shows up in, by the way. But I know that there are those who take preschool very seriously. I was one of those parents once. No … not gonna lie, I was never one of those parents. I always had too many kids to really care. But I apologized in earnest and told her that I actually did have plans, but they were thwarted by life and my friend trumped whatever was going on anyway. I went on to say that a part of me *kind* of cared that there were probably parents who saw Mary and rolled their eyes, thinking to themselves … whatever they think, but that to be honest, there was a bigger part of me that just didn’t care at all. My parenting philosophy has always been to not micromanage and encourage independence. Who the hell cares what she wears? Or if she wants to look like Batman? There are worse things …
I also went on to say that hopefully, one day, when all these kids graduate from high school and they are reminiscing with their parents, thumbing through the pictures of life, they will come across this class picture. All the beautifully dressed children, and Mary in her football jersey. And then one of them will say, “Remember Mary? She was that little girl with the wild red curly hair who was Merida from Brave one day and the next day dressed like Spiderman. I heard she just received full-ride academic scholarship to college …”