My 4 year old is starting preschool in the fall.
This is not necessarily a remarkable event — kids start preschool the world over every year, of course — but given our circumstances and the horridness of local and world events since his birth, I feel this milestone is really something worth celebrating.
Let’s start with my son himself. Julian is…how do I say this…a challenging child. He is hilarious, whip-smart, cute as hell and, when he wants to be, very sweet and cuddly. I’m wild about him. But hoo boy, is he intense. Intense opinions. Intense emotions. Intense moods. Even in utero, he made his presence known with morning sickness so intense I had to take anti-nausea meds right up until his birth. Then there was the colic, followed by torticollis that required physical therapy, then a flat head that required a helmet, followed by refusing to eat most foods that required food therapy.
Then the pandemic hit.
I took a leave from my job at NPN to parent Julian and help my older son with online school while my husband worked from home. Feeding therapy went away and, with it, all the Fs I had to give about what he ate, which admittedly felt pretty freeing. Then, three months into the pandemic, he started a wonderful nanny share and, for nearly two years, the other little boy often was his only playmate. Classes, play dates, birthday parties, swim lessons…all the things his older brother got to experience at Julian’s age? Until very recently, he didn’t get to do any of them.
So it’s with a lot of happiness and trepidation that my husband and I anticipate him starting preK at our neighborhood CPS school, where his brother already attends. Will Julian follow the rules? Adapt to the new routine? Play nicely with the other kids? Eat a lunch beyond Goldfish and a stick of cheese? These are questions all parents probably have before their child attends school for the first time, but his lack of experience with any kind of classroom and his relative social isolation have me worried. Odds are he’ll be just fine, and preK will do him immeasurable good. But until the jury is in, I will be on pins and needles.
And then, of course, are the other worries. Since Julian’s birth four years ago, the world has become an even scarier place. Rampant racism, mass shootings, mass shootings in schools, Covid, Covid restrictions, quarantines, horrific wars around the world, an ever-deepening political and social divide, a rolling back of our constitutional rights…just, wow. It’s a lot. Parents of the world, give yourself a pat on the back for just surviving the past few years.
Yet I am hopeful. Hopeful for Julian starting this new (easier?) chapter, hopeful that there are good, decent people who are working hard with me to make this world better for him. He deserves it. We all do.