Missing My Preschool Pal

The last couple of weeks I’ve been missing my preschool pal more than ever. It’s funny that I feel it more now that Ellie is in first grade than I did last year when she was in Kindergarten.

Of course I’ve started my Spanish teaching job at the preschool, so I have sixty or so new preschool pals, and let me tell you, watching a one year old clap and grin while you poorly sing is a pretty awesome feeling.

They say the days are long, but the years are short. Truth Bomb. My “little” girls are in first and third grades this year. It seems like just a blink of an eye ago that I was shuttling them off to preschool. But before I get too nostalgic, I have to remember that leaving the house was a feat of epic proportions and before I knew it, it was time to go scoop them up at noon. The back and forth driving felt frantic, especially knowing that Ellie was in dire need of a nap nodding off in preschool, sometimes literally standing up sleeping on the shoulder of her buddy.

Raising kids is kind of like childbirth. Your memory forgets the painful or difficult parts and leaves the feel-good visions in tact. And the little pleasant visions of my kids’ toddlerhood and babyhood are different for Sammy than for Ellie.

Since Sammy was an only child for a couple of years, most of my alone time memories with her are from her babyhood. I can remember sitting on the rug playing with her for what felt like hours. And it probably was hours, but mixed with bottle time, feeding time, washing the high chair time, and putting away tiny baby laundry time. And picking cheerios up off the kitchen floor. Lots of cheerios.

The preschool year when Ellie was a baby is a complete blur. She had colic and reflux and screamed every time she sat in her car seat, so every car ride with her felt like a race – how quickly can we get to preschool and home without getting a speeding ticket?! In hindsight, I suppose we could’ve taken a year off from preschool, but I suppose we would never have left the house at all in that case.

I have one framed photo of my girls that I took as we picknicked outside on the church steps after school one day. It captures the sweetness of ages two and four, and luckily, omits the constant mothering that accompanies that age. Sit down while you eat. Watch out for your drink. Your wrapper is about to fly away! Uh Oh, you knocked over your yogurt. Here’s your napkin. Don’t step on your sandwich. Your knee is about to land in your cottage cheese. Most of my memories that include both girls bring up that exhausted feeling of mothering two young children.

But when Sammy started Kindergarten, I had some one-on-one time with my preschool pal, Ellie. Most of the days Ellie would hop in the car and announce that she wanted to go home and see her lovey, Owl. But as she got older and stopped needing a nap, we would have lunch at Add Drug or meet Papa for lunch. Those little snippets of one-on-one time (that didn’t involve watching Sophia the First) are the moments I miss right now.

Memories get made every day, of course. And I still treasure my one-on-one time when I’m lucky enough to squeeze some in. But it comes in various forms. Just the other day I sat down with a cup of coffee in front of me, and my big girl next to me, enjoying a little quiet chat time … while waiting to be called on in the waiting room of the orthodontist.

Raising children can make you crazy. Right now I can literally wipe away a couple of tears thinking of my sweet kids and how much I love them while knowing full well that when they come running off the bus, they come running in, elbowing each other to be first, full of sister drama, don’t eat MY popsicle drama, I was gonna wash my hands first drama, and fling all of their belongings all over the house which will not be moved until around 7:30 pm when patience has flown out the window and the threats begin.

Well, maybe I’ll snap a photo as they get off the bus today. The next time I blink my eyes they could be in high school and much too cool to ride the big yellow cheese wagon.