A couple of weeks ago, Gideon’s and Audric’s preschool celebrated the last day of the school year with a family picnic. It’s an annual tradition wherein all of the school’s families get together to eat, gossip, and say goodbye to the children that are graduating to kindergarten. Nana and Pop-Pop were in town, so figuring they needed to surround themselves with even more screaming toddlers, we brought them along.
Now, while we love our little community preschool dearly, the end-of-year picnic resembles more of a trailer park potluck, with a random assortment of veggie dip, hard-boiled eggs (no salt, no nothin’), cold pizza and fancy hippie salad with sunflower seeds. Oh, and grape juice, cause you can’t have a trailer park anything without a saccharine sweet purple drink. Despite the strange culinary choices, the food always disappears and the kids seem fairly happy. I think there’s a lesson here.
Anyway, after the picnic, the graduating class…OK, wait a minute. I’m sorry. Every time I write “graduating” I keep thinking how ridiculous it is that this is a group of children who are leaving a school that they will have a hard time remembering when they’re 42 and pumping out code for a Moogle or Datebook or some other multi-billion dollar company. Harvard Graduating Class of 2014 this ain’t.
Yet, many of the parents get very emotional about this moment and need to celebrate it, so we followed a smaller group of parents and children to a local park to celebrate the four- and five-year-olds graduating to kindergarten.
Notice the sunglasses. No other kid is wearing sunglasses. But ours? He won’t leave home without them, complaining that the sun bothers his eyes (I know the feeling), and choosing to wear dark lenses to shield others from his disdain. Actually, he’s rarely disdainful. But you can almost hear Morrissey playing in his head while he watched the other kids walk the rainbow bridge signifying their rite of passage.
Until it was his turn, of course. Then the unicorns and the puppies all poured from the sky, and his smile could be seen from across the playground. He walked that bridge like he was valedictorian about to deliver his killer speech on the transcendence of PB&Js.
He regarded his graduation certificate with signature coolness, however. “What exactly does it say, Papi?” he asked, nonplussed by the happy stars and faces, and really wanting to get to the meat of it all. Note the sunglasses, still perched firmly on his nose. This one doesn’t ever break from character, not even for his adoring fans.
We now have a preschool graduate, who will continue on to kindergarten in the fall and learn how to hold pencils correctly, take mind-numbing tests and march down the hallways single file. In other words, he’ll learn how to be an elementary school student.
We couldn’t be prouder.
A little over a week ago, you turned three years old. That morning you assured me that you were now a Big Boy, and so I let you drive the car to Whole Foods to pick us up some bagels and milk. What?! We were hungry! Okay, you didn’t really drive anywhere–but you could have. I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye to see you emerge from the driver’s side with your neon green sunglasses perched atop your nose, car keys dangling from your back pocket. Like your brother, you exude self-confidence beyond your years. I think some people may call it “attitude”, but “not” your parents. We just accept it as inevitable given the amount of sass apparently hard-coded into our DNA.
This doesn’t mean you’re obnoxious, though. You’re (objectively speaking) one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met, and you are kind, empathic, and always smiling. Your teachers gush about your humbleness and your loving nature, and I smile politely, my head nodding in agreement. Of course I agree with them, but I also know that you have a built in swagger some 19th century novels might have made an example of, just for laughs. Like when you wave your forefinger in the air and say to your father, “Stefan! You should just relax, okay?” when he asks you to pick up your toys.
Ah, three years old. Your name is Satan.
These days you try to do everything your brother does and you follow him around with the loyalty of a yellow lab. It’s so much fun when he declares in 35 degree weather that he doesn’t want to wear his jacket because big kids don’t need jackets, and then you declare the same only louder and with more emphasis. The funnest.
In fairness, he follows you around quite a bit too, and waits for you before doing simple things like visiting the bathroom, sitting down for a meal, getting ready for bed, or thinking. You two have the kind of sibling relationship that I hope with all my heart will endure the tumultuous teenage years and keep you both at least a phone call away from each other always. But we may need to stow away the Hot Wheels for a while, just to maintain a little dignity in our family.
And speaking of growing up…
I would happily give my right arm if it meant I could have just thirty seconds a day for the rest of my life with you snuggled in my neck in the mornings. However, can we skip the sweet-voiced demands that I get out of bed at 6:15AM because you’re hungry? I think you know how to pour your own milk now, right, Big Boy?
I love you so much, caballito. Please slow down your growing just a little for me, okay?
Con mucho amor para siempre,
This took four years to learn, y’all. Mighty proud moment.
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Dear Gideon, Two weeks ago, we celebrated your fourth year on this planet with a party at the local park and a chocolate ice cream cake. A few of your friends from preschool made it, as did a few of our friends, and together we celebrated what superficially appeared to be a very run-of-the-mill birthday. […]
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Dear Audric, This afternoon I caught you completely inside the refrigerator, feet on the veggie bins as you reached for blueberries on the top shelf. When I asked you what you were doing, you smiled slyly over your shoulder and said “Mami, I’m…um…looking for something.” And then you calmly returned to your search, ignoring me […]
The difference between these two brothers is best explained with this photograph. Audric, who typically wakes up chatty and happy, can’t understand why Gideon tells him to “GO AWAY-Y-Y!!!” and “LEAVE ME ALO-O-O-N-E-E!!!” repeatedly until his demands for warm milk have been sated and his mood slowly improves.
Some days, I take my time warming the milk, just so that I can enjoy this scene for a little while and plan my revenge.