Dear Isabelle (because you prefer not to be called Izzy),
On Wednesday morning, Daddy and I will bring you to preschool. I made sure he could go into work late months in advance so we could settle you into your new school together. Some parents are sad when they send their babies off to preschool while others are delighted to get a few hours free. I’m somewhere in the middle. I treasured the two years we spent attending parent/child class at the Susquehanna Waldorf School, but now it’s time for you to start your educational journey by yourself.
I will miss you when you’re gone, but I have plenty of work to keep me busy. I know it will be hard to concentrate on my writing during the first few days you’re at school since I am going to be wondering how things are going. In fact, I’m going to bake a cake from scratch when you’re at school on Wednesday morning rather than try to work on Craft Moves since I know my mind will be wandering. (And besides, who wouldn’t want to eat a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting after their first day of preschool!?!?)
Last week we attended your teacher’s open house. I was reminded of why I selected her to be your teacher while we spent an hour in her classroom. First, she listens with her whole self. She turns her body towards the speaker and makes consistent eye contact. Second, she has a calm voice and chill manner. (Opposite of yours truly, a born New Yorker!) Third, her classroom is serene, with white twinkling lights on the ceiling. Fourth, the room is clutter-free. There are lots of toys, but it’s organized.
I have hopes and dreams for you, Isabelle.
I hope you make friends. This will be the first time you’ll be making friends on your own, without me there to negotiate social situations, barter for toys, or facilitate communication. I hope you are able to find peers you enjoy learning with and playing with in the classroom and on the playground. I hope you share and respect them while sticking up for yourself whenever necessary.
I hope you use your voice. I know you will talk to people (kids and adults) when you know they’re willing to take the time to understand you. I hope you find a classroom full of people who are interested in what you have to say so you will feel free to take risks when you’re speaking. Your teachers know speaking is something that requires a lot of work for you so I hope they will help you through this so people don’t think you’re quiet and shy – because I know you’re not.
I hope you balance your silly and serious sides. You have the tendency to get very silly at home. I’m not sure if this is a home-thing or if this is going to grow into a school thing. I want you to laugh and let your hair down in school, but not at the expense of the learning environment.
I hope you embrace new challenges. And to that end, I hope you continue to have a growth mindset. Part of your speech success is due to the growth mindset you have. You try and try and try, even when it’s hard. I admire you for that. I hope this transfers over to your school life too.
I hope you continue to love reading. Your new classroom is filled with books. I hope you discover new titles and authors you enjoy. Nothing would tickle me more than having you share books with me.
I hope you start to write. Maybe not this year, but during preschool. And by write, I mean talking through stories and drawing pictures of those stories.
I hope you will be a leader, not a follower. I hope you will advocate for yourself and for others. And most of all, I hope you will do the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t the easy choice.
I dream you won’t discover princesses or become obsessed with certain toys. I’ve managed to shield you from these things for the past three-and-a-half years. I know I can no longer shield you from it since you’re going to be in a classroom of kids, some of who are girly-girls and some of whom might have memorized the words to every Disney movie. Therefore, I hope I handle whatever comes my way, on this front, with grace and patience. I know I’m going to need both when the preschool floodgates open. (And, no, you can’t be a princess for Halloween. But you can still be an owl, like you said you wanted to be last week.)
Finally, I hope you love school. It would delight me if you’d wake on a school morning, excited about the day ahead. School is a place for learning, but it should also be a place you love going to because learning is fun.
I know you’re worried about missing me. Eliza and Sam talked to you about going to school without their moms the other day. I hope their words provided you some comfort. And, I hope you know from all of the times I’ve left and come back before that “grown-ups come back” every time.
I love you.