the young son has begun preschool. not a cooperative preschool where i am down the hall kneading bread - which i miss. but a preschool where i walk him up the three concrete steps, sign my initials on the sheet, kiss/hug, kiss/hug, kiss/hug, kiss/hug and then walk out into the afternoon with three hours to spend with the big son which i wholeheartedly enjoy.
today we saw a movie. in the middle of the afternoon. it was an awful movie- another million dollar mess of a good book, but the flying baboons were terrifying. something the 10 year old remarked about several times over dinner.
the thing i like about the preschool is the same thing that i dislike about most schooling settings: the rules. as a montessori preschool there are very specific routines in place. consistent expectations. this now, that later. repeat.
it both lures me in and horrifies me. it speaks to the part of me that wants to always have the scissors tucked into the sewing basket for speedy retrieval and disgusts the whimsy gal who is too distracted by the sound of migrating geese outside to take the extra ten steps back to the bathroom to put the nail clippers away.
as a mom, i have never mastered the art of routine. honestly, i don't completely believe that "children crave routine" either. i think adults crave obedient children and routine is the quickest way to train a child. or a baboon, especially if you want them to do something completely unnatural like fly or go to sleep alone in a dark bedroom.
so, i'm conflicted often. i do enjoy watching my son sit down and do his "coffee work" with precision and pride. the way he rolls the place mat up so tightly, like it's a tortilla to be dipped in salsa, makes me smile. his tiny fingers on a tiny dropper as he polishes a wooden dolphin sculpture with a q-tip and cotton ball- its melts me.
at the same time, i am equally thrilled when he attempts to put his slippers in his cubby by flipping them off of his foot toward the ceiling- rather than picking them up, stacking them together like a sandwich and gently placing them above his name. i am thrilled because this small deviation thrills him. i know i should be alarmed that he likes to deviate, but i am not in the least.
i suppose i see it as being himself. liking himself. putting his own thoughts and whims on a slightly higher shelf than what others expect of him. and i want him to continue to be that independent and assured. i want him to hold onto a spark of individuality midst the herd. if following the rules leads to being normal- veer from that path, son.
just this morning, as we dashed out the house, he saw me eating a banana and was inspired. he attempted to pull one from the bunch, but as you know, that's tricky.
"hey mom, get me a banana!" he called in a sing-song voice of mock authority. typically, i would have just handed one over or maybe said back "Git your own banana, monkey boy!" in some kind of East coast slang if the mood struck. but because he is in school and we are "working on asking" i prompted him, "are you asking me to help you get a banana?"
he looks at me with this "i know what you are doing" look. he's got that one nailed.
the thing is- my kids are gorgeous. neither of their parents are especially stunning, but the combo of euro-mutt and pueblo native...well, wow. it's distracting sometimes. like in that moment, when he looks up at me through his bronze curls and slanting crooked eyes with a playful glint jumping out at me like a star winking. i just swoon a little. and maybe if i could have frozen the clock right then i would have thought about all the rules i will never tell him about because i trust his heart is golden enough to know right from wrong and how to hear its whispers even as mouths shout their truths in his tender ears no matter if he 4 or 14 or 44.
i might have thought all of that and more but he didn't skip a beat before he hollered-"hell yes!" enthusiastically, "get me a banana!"
and i did.