Special Instructions

The lady with the rainbow-painted guitar hit every note of her rowdy kids’ song, the Spanish lyrics washing over me as Q sat in awed silence and my mind wandered of its own accord.

Tomorrow is going to be his first day of preschool. Right here where we now sit together, in this mommy and me introductory music class, tomorrow he’ll sit on his own. Not alone exactly, but certainly not with me.

Will he understand what is expected of him? Will he get into trouble if he doesn’t? Will he feel overwhelmed and cry? Will they understand his signs? Will he understand that I am coming back?

They asked me if I had any special instructions. “Yes!” I wanted to scream, “I have at least one hundred”.

Please take his hand every time he offers it. He needs it to feel safe as he is still learning to walk on unstable ground.

Please do his signs back to him. He likes the reinforcement, he likes to know you understand. It makes him smile so big when you get it.

Please smile back.

Please open his cheesestring just half way, until he is ready for the second part. He likes to hold the plastic until it’s time to let it go.

Please push him on the swing, and sit beside him if you can. He likes to swing together.

Please tell him what a good job he is doing of trying new things.

Please let him squish his yogurt between his fingers before licking it off. He likes how it feels. His pleasure is worth the mess.

Please don’t yell at him, or tell him no over and over. He likes to try new things. We want kids and adults who are willing to try new things. If what he is doing is dangerous or against a rule, please remove him gently from the situation and show him what to do instead.

As I imagined everything I wanted to say, I fought back the tears in the middle of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. What are those tears all about? I know that he will be safe, that they will care for him. I know that it will be good for him, to learn, to grow, to see other tiny humans like him who try and fail and get back up again.

And I know I cannot be his whole world forever. In fact, being someone’s whole world can be so so so hard. Overwhelming. Intense. Demanding, Repetitive. Exhausting. There’s not a lot of space for me in all the giving and sacrificing. But, still.

Mostly, I think, I am worried that he will change. What if I don’t like what comes out? What if I don’t feel I know him as well? What if we lose some of our connection already, as he enters the world?

I never understood why the quintessential mom cries on her kid’s first day of kindergarten, but yet again I learn that you can’t really understand anything until it’s happening to you.

They asked me if I had any special instructions.

“No,” I said. “Not really.”

Please keep him safe.

Please make sure he feels loved.

Please tell him “Mommy will be back soon” every time he signs for me. It might be 100 times in one day. Please tell him patiently anyways.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    Beautiful Mel xo


  2. jennaknee says:

    Well I almost cried reading this and I’m not a mom!


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