My wife has a saying: The days are long, but the years are short.
Julian started preschool today, and to say that my emotions are mixed is to say that Everest is steep.
The school is a cooperative playschool, put together by friends from the Cortelyou Moms Fall 2011 mailing list. It meets in the basement of a house nearby, and it’s led by a teacher certified by the NYC DoE to teach early childhood classes. The curriculum is informal and play/discovery oriented, just letting kids learn things by exploring their environments and forming friendships with other kids.
We met the teacher last week at a play date, and she’s fantastic. She’s smart, with clear ideas about how young children learn best, and she has a great rapport with young kids. We arrived accidentally together at the play date, and while Jen and I were putting our stuff away and getting Mirabelle out of her stroller, Rachel (the teacher) took Julian’s hand and led him into the backyard to play.
I am thrilled for Julian. He’s shown a lot of signs lately that he’s ready for something like this. He plays well with other kids on the playground. He recognizes his friends and gravitates to them when they’re out. And he loves going up to adults and just sitting and chatting with them.
Rachel warned the group of parents that some of the kids might have separation anxiety at the door, and I saw that this morning with one little boy. But Jen and I joked that Julian would probably immerse himself right into free-play when he got to school and barely be aware that we were leaving.
That’s exactly what happened. Jen and I were struggling with our feelings, and he was blissfully playing with a little girl in the group.
Julian’s unusual, in that he’s really never been with a sitter or a teacher who wasn’t family. When I went to Mexico earlier this year, Jen’s mom came up for a while and stayed with the kids while Jen worked.
I’m not worried about his adjustment, though; he likes Rachel, and I think he’ll do well with her and the other kids.
No, it’s MY adjustment that worries me. Aside from the Mexico trip and a brief jaunt to Kentucky, I’ve been with him all the time. We’re inseparable, and now he’s off having adventures without me.
But this is right. This is what should be. I want him to fly to Mexico on his own to join a group of strangers on a week-long distillery visit slash bender. Or Argentina, or New Zealand, or Japan, or Canadia, or wherever. That drive for his independence starts here, and it starts today.
It’s good for me, too. I’ve been very frustrated lately: Julian and Mira have such divergent nap schedules right now that it’s nearly impossible to have them both napping at the same time. Some days, I get half an hour of quiet in which to write, plan publicity for the book, keep up with email, and plan future projects.
I have felt frenzied, but worse, it affects my output. I was writing weekly for Serious Eats, and now I’m lucky if I get a post a month in there.
Right now, I’m listening to music and writing this, while Julian’s in school and Mira (finally) naps. I feel like I’ve reclaimed a part of myself. How can you be a writer if you can’t write?
So this is good, but goddamn, it’s hard. I miss my best buddy.