Counting – or not – the days to nursery school

I haven’t had much sympathy for the people bemoaning the end of summer this past week.
From the day Jillian and I made our visit to the Callicoon Nursery School last spring, I’d been counting down my days.
The thing is, I know she’s going to love it. I’m happy she’s going to love it. But, well, she’s going to love it… and that means her days as the Sullivan County Democrat’s junior reporter are coming to an end.
Our impromptu visit last spring was the sort that brings out the Sybil in a mom – she jumps for joy in front of her child, then hides in the bathroom for a good cry.
Pulling my book from my purse, I settled into a corner while the teachers set out a plate of pretzels and cup of juice so she could join the class at snack time. The plan was to keep my eyes on my book so Jillian would feel ignored and want to play with the other kids. I thought I’d get in some quality reading time not possible when she’s bouncing around begging to put together puzzles or play tea party. I knew my little politician would probably take the bait, opting for the excitement across the room over the boring old mommy in the corner.
I wasn’t worried. I’ve never worried. I refuse to believe loving your child means wanting to spend every waking moment in her presence. I love chocolate – I wouldn’t want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Hmm, M&Ms, Godiva… bad example. I love my husband too, but we haven’t been fused at the hip since our newlywed days. There, better. Are you with me?
Her too-big jeans hanging loose on her little hips, Jillian sauntered across the room to join snack time. I waited for the glance, the look, the question in her eyes. “Is this OK, Mommy?”
It never came. When a little girl she’d met at story hour a few times opted not to move over and give her a seat, the super-mom inside wanted to launch myself across the room and wrestle that pint-sized body over one seat.
But Jillian wasn’t fazed. She made an instant friend, a little boy who volunteered to share pretzels and juice at the little picnic table. From my corner I could hear her asking for more, telling that little boy her name.
For two hours she ignored me in favor of a felt story and a frog’s life cycle, Play-Doh and the sand table. The taste of her independence was like a refrigerated piece of chocolate – shockingly cold at the outset, but sending out waves of comfort as it warmed up.
School is a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world, I told myself.
I emerged stronger in the end, a mom who learned what it really means to be separate from her child. I’ve let her grow her own identity. She is Jeanne’s daughter. But she is also Jillian.
And, oh man, I’m going to miss her!


  1. Just wait intill she gets on that big old bus to kindergarten! I’m dying inside.

  2. She growing up so fast. I know you’ll be fine. She’ll have plenty to tell you when she comes home.

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