Yesterday Francie and her class of preschoolers had a “Step up to Kindergarten Event.” Lovely stuff, including a tour of the classroom she’ll be in next year, and listening to a story read by the teacher both my boys had for Kindergarten. Some kids were clingy, but not mine. I watched in pride as Francie navigated the classroom on her own, complimenting myself on what must surely be my supreme parenting skills — only nine months ago she’d started the year by screaming bloody murder when I’d drop her off, and continue to do so until she’d practically blacked out. I really did marvel on how far my little string bean had come. As I am about to walk her back to her class she looks at me and says, “Pick me up.” So I picked her up in my arms. “No,” she says. “I mean pick me up from school. Now.”
Next thing I know she’s blubbing frantically and begging for early release, and I’m chastising myself for my premature self-congratulations. I walk her back to class and try to convince her to stay, but I see it’s not working. (Francie is an amazingly efficient crier because she has unusually large tears — so large that even doctors comment on how well-hydrated she must be. Within moments she is soaking wet and standing in a small pool of her own sadness.)
“Okay,” I say. “Get your stuff. Let’s go.”
She looks at me, stunned. So, I repeat, “Let’s go. I’ll take you with me.”After a few moments she sees I’m serious and rushes to grab her stuff before I change my mind.
When we’re in the car I ask her: Why did you look so shocked? What did you think would happen ? Instead of telling me, Francie announces that she’ll show me what she thought would happen. This finger, she says holding up her right index finger, is me. And the other one is you, Mummy. The right finger starts to cry loudly and uncontrollably and the left finger, clearly unmoved, kisses it quickly and says, “Don’t cry. I’ll see you later. Gotta run. (I swear I even heard it say ‘Ciao’.)” And then the Mother finger makes a Thumbkin-like disappearance behind Francie’s back.
Nice. (Do they really only remember my crappier moments?)
I really should know better. Whenever I think a particular behavior is behind us, it returns to remind me that nothing (including bed-wetting, dirty-underpants-in-heating-vents-stashing and booger-eating), is ever really behind us, and I’d be wise never to get too comfortable. So noted.
One thing I did think was behind me was large tonsils. While many of my physical attributes do not seem to have made the Darwinian cut, large tonsils apparently did. Both boys had them yanked before their third birthdays. When Francie seemed to have escaped their fate, I assumed the tonsils went to the boys and the girls were off the hook. Again, I seem to be assuming facts clearly not in evidence — Fiona snores like a foghorn, so much so that she practically has sleep apnea (among other symptoms). So, in a few weeks the tonsils come out (but not before we take a trip to the coast and all pile into one hotel room with the foghorn). The doctor told her that her tonsils look like two giant meatballs rubbing against each other in the back of her mouth. When everyone got home from school yesterday she announced that in a few weeks her meatballs come out and we can all eat ice cream. Sounds like a party to me…