March 23, 2010
I visited a pre-school the other day. It was nice, everyone was friendly, and the rooms were neat and filled with children’s artwork and imaginary play toys. It was kind of an out of body experience until I realized that MY children’s artwork would soon be hanging on those walls. MY children would soon be running willy-nilly around the cute playground. And I will be the parent worrying that the gate can be pushed open for my oh-so clever escape artist child to take off through and make his way into the world. The gate itself is actually secure. Even if he tried to push the bar that opens it, he will not be successful in getting out. But one day, he will be allowed out, and will push other bars open on other doors, actually making his way in the world. This alarmed me as I am sure it has with mothers before me and those to come after me. Was I waxing too philosophical? How can they be two years old? How can they almost be ready for a pre-school class?
Once upon a time I was a day camp director and had files upon files of medical release paperwork for the kids attending camp. Medicine lists, allergies, physical considerations, etc., all telling me what to do in case of an emergency. Not that I was nonchalant by any stretch, but I can say now that looking back, I had only a simple concept of what that paperwork meant. I was responsible for those children, and I took it seriously. But what it really meant was that I was a temporary ‘parent’ for the day. Those parents all trusted me and the companies I worked for to handle their children carefully. Though I cared for hundreds of children before my own, the responsibility I now feel for my three is more weighty than I could ever have imagined. Now that it is my own children, I must fill these forms out and trust that “in case of”, what I write down will be followed and my kids will be ok. But I can’t know that. We can’t ever really know that can we? We can only trust that we are making the right choices for them until they can do it on their own.