I remember the days I went to pre-k, at the community center in my town. I usually wore a striped t-shirt, and I spent what felt like a long time there. (In fact, it was 2 hours, twice a week.) There was no easel for me at painting time, so I would wander and look at what the other children were painting. I remember the room was cramped. I also remember getting hit by a teacher when I ventured over to where some people were burning trash. I had a world inside, though, that allowed me to be an observer, to make sense of the detachment I felt in this environment – not unlike the detachment at home.
I was relieved, many years later, to find no smoking ashcan by Ben’s daycare center. But I agreed to let him start making his own connections to other people independent of me pretty early on. For more together mothers than myself, I suppose it’s a bigger leap of faith. In my case, I felt it was the best thing for him.
I still do.
Though I realize the adventure he began at 13 months has become his world, a place where he has become familiar with his surroundings, the interactions, and the rhythms of things.
In his first year, his wonderful teacher would take pictures and print them out for us, a glimpse into his daily world. It would tug hard to see none of the smiles that were a regular feature of our time together. He smiles now for posed pictures, but the shots of classroom action still reveal a serious little boy. (For some time, he has had out-of-control giggles at home, with lots of kisses and “kickles”.)
I wonder what’s going through his head. My own memories weren’t that I was sad to be away from home; instead, I remember being disconnected from other people. I see Ben starting to play with other children – not just next to them, but with them – and I see he’s already doing better than I. But I wonder about that world. Maybe someday he’ll have a blog.