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Time was I could open my  mouth and insert my  foot into it quite comfortably and with relative ease. And with a great sense of style, that was of course totally lost on my audience, who were too busy rolling around laughing at my gaffes.

 

Then I grew up and it wasn’t such a frequent occurrence anymore.

 

But wait, said the universe. You mop your brow in relief? Not quite yet, my dear. Here, take this nearly four old. He will be doing the opening of mouth and inserting of foot henceforth. Said the universe.

 

What am I talking about, you wonder in puzzlement. I shall elaborate. So the little man starts at day care. He has a teacher there. And this teacher has a car. Why, you say, is that important. It is. It is integral to the story.

 

Now, the teacher. The little man is totally taken with this teacher. He’s that kind of boy, gives his heart freely and totally away, after a day’s acquaintance. For some reason he latches on to the idea that he must see this teacher’s car. He asks him, nay pesters him about it. He asks if it is a sedan, asks if it’s blue, asks if cars we pass on the road are his teacher’s.

 

My husband on hearing about this obsession with an acquaintance’s car decides to forewarn and forearm him. He decides that in this day and age where danger lurks in every parked car and in every abandoned car, the little man must be armed and able to face said danger. He tells him he must never get in to a stranger’s car. And that if a stranger ever asks him to get in to a car, he must never NEVER do so. And he must NEVER talk to strangers. And if a stranger were ever to approach him, he must come to the nearest trusted adult. And NEVER take candy from a stranger. And he must NEVER NEVER EVER get into a stranger’s car.

 

He did quite a good job, I must say. The next day when I drop the little man off at day care, the first thing he says to his teacher is “My daddy says I mustn’t get into your car because you are a stranger.”

 

Open mouth wide. Insert foot firmly.

 

 

So the boy is off to preschool today.
Well technically he’s been there for an hour now.
It went surprisingly well, all things considered. I was remembering images from almost two decades ago, when my baby brother started school. He was so terrified, he was hanging on to the gate and refusing to let go. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with that with my boy, because I would have just broken down right there along with him. I guess he heard my prayers, because it couldn’t have been easier. He handed over his teddy without fuss, held his teacher’s hand and walked off with her.
Except for one fly in the ointment. Just as his teacher was reaching for his hand, he looked at me. He seemed to be saying “Who is this person? Why are you asking me to go with her?” When I said “That’s your teacher”, he went off without a second look or word, absolutely trusting my word that this completely new person would take care of him.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is my son. Pride.
But that look has left me sitting here at a Starbucks, crying like the sentimental fool that I am and wiping my tears away. Praying he’s ok, hoping he’s having fun and realizing this is the first in a long line of goodbyes. He will go to school, on trips, to college, to other continents. And I will be there at every instance being excited for him and with him, wishing him well, telling him to have fun and saying goodbye with a smile.
And after he’s left, I will wipe away the tears and miss my baby with an ache, deep in my heart and soul.
As I am missing him now.

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