As you may know, I care for two little munchkins three days per week. The older child, Nicky, is nearly 3.5 years old and I have been one of his caregivers since he was six months. He is not the first child I have cared for over the span of my life, but I dare say he is one of the most challenging. He is also the one that I have grown to love in a way I never anticipated.
Last year he attended a preschool program at the local Jewish Community Center two mornings weekly for two and a half hours. In the beginning, he was less than happy about going. He adjusted pretty quickly, though and was sad when his parents decided not to sign him up for another year, at the beginning of the summer. I was glad to have him home with me and his baby sister all summer. Although, I knew that the plan was to enroll him in some other program in September.
There was some anxiety on the part of some the adults (Mom, Nana, me) that Nicky would react badly to the "new" school, since he has spent a good bit of time talking about Judy and Naomi, from his previous school.
Last week, he started his new preschool. It's a three day per week program at a local church for 4 hours each day. He even has to bring a lunch.
So it was that on his third day of school, last week, I stood in the doorway as he walked off with his Mom, to get in her car and be dropped at school. He kissed me good bye and trotted off like he'd been doing this for years, instead of DAYS! As he climbed into his car seat and his Mom was buckling him in, he very nonchalantly waved to me. I lost it! I immediately teared up and excused myself from the activities, mentioning to his Mom that I had to go inside because I was going to cry. She said, "You're worse than me!"
He just seemed to have grown up overnight! And I'm crying now as I type this. it doesn't seem that long ago that I held him on my chest and rocked him in the afternoons so that he would sleep longer than thirty minutes.
At one PM his sister and I were waiting in the hall at the school to pick him up. As he left the classroom and saw us, he ran to me and threw his arms around my legs with abandon and said, quite loudly, "JeanMarie! You came!!!" I almost cried again.