Preschool Coming of Age

We received an invitation to a birthday party for a girl in Hal’s class. I wanted to know how he felt about the girl before giving him the opportunity to decide whether to go to the party. Call me a party pooper, but I wasn’t interested in attending a party for a kid that he didn’t particularly like just so he could get a goody bag and jump in a bounce house.

“Hal,” I asked, “are you friends with Kennedy?”

He looked up at me with a slight shrug.

“Is she one of your friends?”

He gazed carefully at my face before saying, “Mommy. I’m hungry. I really don’t want to talk about this right now.”

Fair enough. If only his older siblings could communicate that clearly. For that matter, if only he could consistently.

He has recently been expressing his displeasure with attending preschool. I suspect it’s one part restlessness, one part boredom, and one part irritation that he isn’t allowed to play on his Nintendo DS on school nights. For awhile, he’d get upset when I would respond in the affirmative to his question: “Do we have school tomorrow?”

So I was rather surprised one day when he responded, “Yes! We have school tomorrow!”

“You are excited that you have school tomorrow?” I asked.

“Yes, Mommy. You see, the more you have of something, the closer you are to being done with it. So I’m happy about going to school because that’s just one day closer to being out of school.”

The night that the boys had to sit through both a worship service and a symphony performance, Hal had swiped three coffee stir sticks from the church kitchen. Later, at the symphony, I saw my husband snatch them away from him before thrusting them into my hands.

Apparently Hal had just told him, “Daddy, I pushed this one all the way up in the top of my nose and it really hurt.”

A few days later, my husband was horsing around with Jane at the dinner table. He grabbed a spear of asparagus and acted like he was going to shove it up her nose.

Speaking with an almost professorial lecturing tone, Hal informed his sister, “Sissy, you don’t want to stick anything up your nose. I tried that once and it really hurt. So don’t do it.”

That same night, he told Daryl authoritatively that the brown spots on the extremely ripe strawberries were the best parts. It didn’t faze him that everyone was dubious at the news.

It’s fun watching your children grow up. And also sometimes sad. But I love moments like these where he steps up and claims his place as an equal of worth in the family rather than the little baby that everyone smiles at, does stuff for, and pats on the head.