One of the best parts of being a preschool parent is without a doubt watching them play when they don’t know you are watching. This is a tricky thing to do, especially if you are trying to do it as you arrive to pick them up from the preschool. The reason it is tricky is that every single preschool child considers it their solemn duty to immediately notify their classmate when a parent arrives.
It’s like a crazy chain reaction. The first child notices you, perhaps even ignoring your finger to your lip and shake of your head, and yells, “H-A-A-A-A-L-L-L-L!!!!” The kids nearest turn to catch a glimpse of you before joining the chorus. Soon, the entire classroom or playground is ringing with your child’s name.
When the older two were young, I could sit in my car if they were on the playground and watch fairly safely from there. Before long, the informants began to recognize my car. I could try to hide near the glass inside the building and watch – but only if I could get in undetected, and even then, there wasn’t much to hide me.
At Hal’s school, however, I can easily get all the way to his classroom without being seen from the playground. The play toys are a safe distance from the classroom windows. I can watch him play to my heart’s content without fear of being caught.
And so today, I gazed out the window and found him at the swingset. He’s usually at the wooden train. He was standing up and brushing the wood chips from his body, apparently recovering from a fall. Had he launched himself from the swing? When he stood, I marveled again at how much taller he is than the other kids. He seriously looked out of place.
He soon rushed back to the swing and tried several times to hop into it. He and the little girl next to him were both trying to lay on their backs on the swings. Hal succeeded and pushed himself off. When the swing swung to the front and he was a good distance from the ground, he suddenly flipped his legs up and over his head, completing a flip that had him flying a bit from the momentum before smacking face down back into the wood chips.
I now knew what he had been doing just before I got there. I watched some more, curious. Both he and the little girl were flipping, typically without the swing moving. She was more graceful and controlled; he was more exuberant. After a few more minutes, I walked outside. The cries of his name began before both of my feet had touched the porch.
As we walked to the car, he said, “I know who’s going to marry me.”
“Oh, really? Who is it?”
“That little girl you were swinging with?”
“That’s sweet. Did you ask her to marry you or did she ask you?”
“I asked her.”
“And she said yes?”
“Why do you want to marry her?”
“She’s in Ms. Tony’s class.”
“You want to marry her because she’s in Ms. Tony’s class?”
“Because I want to be in Ms. Tony’s class!”
“Why do you want to be in Ms. Tony’s class?”
“Because they are bigger! Well… I’m actually bigger than they are but they are the big kid class.”
I suppose some grown-ups don’t have much better reasons to marry than that. Good thing he’s still under age.