Today was a big day in our house. Well, not actually in the house, but a mere 15 minutes away.
It was the day our sons started preschool. The same sons we sang to in the NICU. The wee ones we once spent hours rocking to sleep late at night and early in the morning just three short years ago. Our little boys who I’m having a hard time now realizing aren’t so little any more.
All the firsts we’ve gone through
The first time they rolled over. The moment they took those first steps. The transition from baby food to solids, and from bottles to sippy cups. Now their mother and I are faced with yet another milestone. They are officially in school. Granted, it’s only three hours a day and twice a week, but still — another step toward full-blown adulthood that is scary and exciting all at the same time.
Being a stay-at-home father is an incredible experience, but one that has really tainted my view of their new adventure. While I’m happy for the great strides they’ve made in their development over the course of the past three-and-a-half years, I have to admit it makes me a little sad. When they learned a new word, or started quoting lines from a book we’ve read what seems like a thousand times before bed, it’s been their mother and I that could take credit. The alphabet? Their shapes and colors? The names of every single Peanuts character (including a couple with no names that we just made up)? The pats on the back go to their mother and me.
Tonight, at dinner, after only a week of formal education (or as formal as preschool can be considered), Carter sang a new song they learned today in his class of 13 unfamiliar faces.
Sing a Song of Preschool
“Alligator, alligator/butterfly, give mom a big hug,” he said in between bites of sandwich. His brother then quickly joined in.
Looking at their mother with amusement, I jumped on “The Google.” The goal? To find this magical mystical song that had the two of them grinning from ear to ear. I found the reference to the alligator portion, even playing the accompanying video aloud. I watched as their faces lit up to the familiar tune. Their hands attempting to pantomime the gestures by the performers on my iPad.
Our two little men have returned from their first week of scholastic endeavors with knowledge that didn’t come from their mom, myself, or an animated character on a children’s television program. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Far from it, in fact. I realize that it’s only the beginning of their education. We want them to learn as much as they can from as many sources as possible. It’s part of the reason their mother and I spent the time we did carefully researching preschool curriculums. It’s also why we finally decided on the school we did. Especially at this very impressionable age, we wanted to make sure they were afforded every opportunity to learn as much as possible.
They’re Growing Up
It makes me stop and take a moment to really realize how grown up they are becoming. It goes beyond just the things they learned at home like counting to 20 and knowing how to put their shirts on. The little song they sang to us tonight, complete with matching hand movements, is just the start of a new period in their lives where knowledge will start coming at them from all directions. Rather than being their only source of education, it is now our job to help them embrace the little bits of information they are collecting from school. Our task will be to reinforce the skills they are learning on a daily basis.
As painful as it is to see our “babies” growing up right before our eyes, we are truly up for the challenge. I have a feeling that we’re going to spend a lot more time googling parts of conversations and songs they share with us at dinner from here on out.
I’m glad that we have the alligator portion figured out. If anyone has a child in preschool, and knows of this “butterfly – hug your mother” song, feel free to share. I’m afraid I may have just broke the internet looking for it.
A version of this first appeared on Double Trouble Daddy. Photo: ACPL via photopin (license)
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