“I not going to cry any more when I go to preschool,” Isaac announced from the backseat a couple of months ago. “I just going to be happy.” And that, my friends, was it: the abrupt, anticlimactic — although entirely welcome — end to the months of outsize emotions, the awfulizing, the vales of tears and the puffy eyes and the Kübler-Ross–esque stages of grief around day care. Turns out I was right all along: he does like preschool! I would say I told you so, but what’s the point? Being a parent essentially means giving up your right to say I told you so. I’m going to put that on a T-shirt.
It’s like that, isn’t it, with children? So little is linear. They don’t progress slowly, gradually, consistently, from one stage to another. Instead, it’s all passionate declarations and unexpected leaps, so abrupt that you don’t realize that they’re the results of months of, until now, invisible progress, practice. Rowan had training wheels, and — blink — now he doesn’t. Isaac cried about preschool, and now — hey presto! — he doesn’t. Now, when I arrive to pick him up at the end of the day, he sends me away, because he’s not ready to leave. Sometimes I watch him through the windows, see how he hangs up his coat on his hook and pours his own water from those little pitchers and shakes maracas at music time and tidies up his modelling clay as a matter of course, all the while chatting up a happy little storm to his teachers.
Still, he’s still very into the ritual of going through the days of the week: there are preschool days and babysitter days and family days, and almost every morning we do a little recital of the order of the week until we get to the weekend, when he gets to revel in his family: his two moms and his brother and his cats and the various aunties and friends and other central folks — like donor/dad/Rob — who make up our constellation. They’re still his favourite, the family days, but now at least he gets to enjoy them without obsessing over the fact that the week ahead will contain some preschool.
So I was very happy to read an early copy of Arthur A. Levine’s new kids’ book, Monday Is One Day. “The hardest part of going to work is being apart from you,” it begins: “Let’s count the days till we’re both at home with a special thing to do.” What follows is a rhyme for each day of the week: Monday is one day; Tuesday is blue shoes day; and so on, filled with dinosaurs, and cuddles and raspberries on the nose and tractors and guitars and the like. Levine, whose imprint at Scholastic is possibly best known as the publisher of the American editions of the Harry Potter series, wrote the book, he says, as he contemplated what it would be like to be apart from his then-infant son. What’s particularly lovely is the range of family types depicted in the illustrations: single parents (male and female), two dads, an older couple that looks as though they could be grandparents, and — so radical, and kudos to Levine, himself a gay dad, for including them — what looks to be a heterosexual couple. I can’t tell for sure, though, because there’s no footnote to explain each family structure: you just have to take each household at face value and assume that the intimacy between children and adults — “a kiss and cuddle, a dance in a puddle, a dinosaur huddle, a sweet family a muddle!” — is the result of years of not-so-invisible love.
Scholastic has offered three copies of Monday Is One Day to me to giveaway to YOU: readers of this blog. To win, leave a comment on this post with the name of a book you love to read with your kids, or detailing your own family’s story of weekly rituals. Or something else somewhat on-topic; I’m not too fussy. On Monday, April 25, I’ll randomly select two of those comments to win books; I’m reserving the third copy for new Facebook friends of this blog: click on the link to the right in order to become a fan (and yes, that is a brazen grab for more friendship, and that’s all I have to say about that). Good luck!