Farewell to the three-year-old class

Last Friday was Anna’s last day of preschool.

She went to school with her trademark “cute” smile, her hair swept into a ponytail, and her siblings sent her off with a chorus of complaints, “WHAT!?! Her school is over? And we have two more weeks? NOT FAIR!!!”

These kids! There’s nothing like your 10-year-old comparing his day to your 4-year-old’s. As if he never lived the privileged life of a 4-year old — when every aspect of your school day was about “play!” Play silks! Play-Doh! Playground! And then you get out of school at noon!

Anna had an incredible first year of preschool. She didn’t go to school last year. I made that decision BEFORE the pandemic because I wanted her home with me a little longer…and because I wanted a break from all the preschool germs. (HA! See how ahead of the trend I am? I was shuttering my windows and locking my doors to keep germs out way back in 2019!!!)

In hindsight I’m so grateful that I made that decision on my own, because it’s one fewer thing that felt like was taken away from us…if that makes any sense.

Either way, going to school this year felt triumphant, like one step back to normal. Packing snacks, and the drop-off and pick-up scramble, all that was part of the “before times.”

Anna had a wonderful class with awesome kids and teachers that adored her. In this safe, loving, accepting, caring environment, Anna was absolutely terrified to speak. She probably said fewer than 20 words all year.

Once, her teacher brought her to the car and proudly told me “We’re pretty sure that Anna might have participated during circle time this morning.”

When she got home, though, Anna would not stop talking. She told me about the kids in the class and the shenanigans they got into. Every day we’d go the class roll and talk about who was or wasn’t there. We talked about what everyone did on the playground, and what everyone had for snack. She particularly wanted to gossip about the kids who brought VEGGIES for snack. Can you believe it, Mom?

The thing she loved best, though, was the songs they sang in class. She told me about the “Goodbye Song” they sang every day, and she’d come home singing mottled verses. Sometimes she’d ask me, “Do you know that song? The one with the smile in it? It goes like this.. da da smile. That one?”

I, of course, had no idea what she was talking about. When this happened she’d be furious, like I’d lost her dinner reservation on purpose. You don’t know that song? HOW COULD YOU?

But when I did know the song? She was equally as amazed. She’d look at me like her lame ole mom was suddenly Cinderella, transformed to go to the ball. All this time I was walking around with this information and she had no idea!

Her all-time favorite song was “Go, tell it on the mountain.” She started singing that song in December and she hasn’t stopped. She sings, “Go, tell it on the mountain; over the hills and far away!”

I don’t correct her because her version is so sweet.

I told her that that song is my favorite Christmas song, and she responded by telling me that it’s her teacher’s favorite song, too. When she said that, I immediately knew why she loves the song so much. It’s because her teacher taught it with so much love. When you teach something you love, it comes across with an extra bit of magic.

For preschool teachers, magic is all in a days work. Preschool teacher/magician, one and the same.

How do teachers do it? How do they transform mundane things like colors and shapes into concepts so fascinating that they accomplish the impossible — they hold the attention of a preschooler. The answer, of course, is love. That sounds so cheesy and sentimental but I mean it sincerely. One absolutely cannot do the nose-wiping, redirecting, enthusiasm of a preschool teacher without caring about the kids to the core.

I don’t say it enough. I’m so thankful for preschool and how Anna has been loved, cared for, and taught this year. Thank you for teaching her letters, shapes, numbers, your favorite song, and especially for making sure she knows that Jesus made her, knows her, and loves her so very much.

Our goal for Anna is that next year she’ll talk a little more. But we know that if she doesn’t, if she’s not ready, that’s ok. There will be plenty of space for her to feel comfortable and grow at her own pace, in her own time. After all, that’s what preschool is for.

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