Before Bob started his first full year at a sweet co-op, we enrolled him in a fancy pants pre-school for a short summer session to work out a few tiny separation anxiety issues. The school is beautiful; a small compound that resembles a Craftsman neighborhood. The orientation video had me welling up during the montage of photos of happy multi-cultural children basking in the amazing student/teacher ratio, all set to Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World. The bill for six weeks at that shining school had me crying even more. We never harbored any fantasies that we would send him there for any longer than a month and a half only because in order to afford a full term we would have to move into a van.
The teacher in charge of Bob’s class was a tall African-American man named Mr. Eric. I referred to Mr. Eric as the tantrum-tamer. He was a quiet guy with an amazing ability to calm a crying child simply by scooping them up into his arms. He guided the children seamlessly through art and water-play. He taught them table manners and sang A Ram Sam Sam at circle time. Mr. Eric had two lovely assistant teachers who helped with the home-made clay and free-play with the endless supply of age-appropriate wooden toys.
Bob loved it. I loved it more. I had the suspicion that if we could just drop our son off at three-years of age and pick him up fifteen years later, these wise and gentle folk would do a much better job of raising him than we ever could. On the last day of school, I surprised myself and cried. I cried a big hiccupy, snot-string cry. It was our introduction to Bob's school years and it had ended. We moved on to other swell schools and other wonderful teachers and I've held it together. So far.
Next week, Bob starts kindergarten. After a long-ish summer of all Bob, all the time, I am looking forward to a little three hour and twenty-five minute break everyday. Of course, I will miss him. This year school feels like it’s starting too soon and at the same time not soon enough. I don’t anticipate crying though, but I never do.