For the record, Isaac ...

… you come from a long line of people who ENJOYED PRESCHOOL. See?

Right there? That’s my mother, your Bubbie Ruthi (I was going to write “your maternal grandmother,” but in our household that wouldn’t really clarify anything now, would it?) in May of 1951, surrounded by a trio of stripy-shirted little boys, having what can only be described as a blast — A BLAST — at a lovely little preschool somewhere in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


And who wouldn’t have a blast, really, with her minions surrounding her, hard at work? I love the composition of this photo (photographer unknown. Here, for the record, is a photograph of the young Elizabeth Taylor). Maybe what you need is minions — would you like some minions? If you think that would get you over the hump, I’m sure we could find some.

“Is it getting any better?” a fellow mom — who has witnessed your histrionics as she drops her own kids off — asked me yesterday at your music class. “Because he’s breaking my heart.”

Mine too. Mine too. But things are getting better. They really are. You no longer cry the night before you’re scheduled to go to preschool, nor for the entire morning leading up to it. And when the tears begin — usually about the time you’re supposed to get dressed and leave — we can sometimes distract you from them, although both Rachel and I have had the honour of towing a wailing three-year-old through the streets in the bike trailer. It’s a distinct feeling, that, saying good morning to neighbours and other parents while an air raid signal of sadness emanates from the trailer behind you. People can hear us coming, that’s for sure, and they smile sadly and shake their heads.

But it’s getting better. Now, you walk into the classroom on your own, and, often, the tears have stopped before I leave the room. You have started to leave your security blanket in your locker, which frees up both your hands for playing. A friend of yours had his first day last week and when he arrived, teary himself, you told your teacher, “I’m not going to cry today. I’m going to help.” And you did, rubbing his back and showing him the ropes.

It’s getting better, because before I pick you up I watch you through the windows, and you are smiling and skipping and picking carrots from the vegetable garden. Your teachers tell me that each day you talk more, do more, play more — that you have great days. Your eyes aren’t puffy like they used to be when I pick you up, and you talk about going back. You eat the food. Sometimes you even nap.

So, Isaac, here’s what I’m wondering: is it really that you dislike preschool so much, or is that you are committed to disliking the idea of preschool? Because I’m kind of inclined to think the latter, that the tears are at this point a habit rather than, say, a sign of actual, immediate, misery. I realize there’s a fine line — or, depending on your viewpoint, a vast chasm — between perception and reality, but I’m starting to think that you might just be okay.

Either that, or I’m an insensitive oaf of a parent. You say tomato, I say to-mah-to.

Still, as much as you tell me you’d like to, we’re not calling off the whole preschool thing just yet.

I will work on the minions, though.