My reaction to Tobin's return to his original preschool is a paradox. On one hand I'm thrilled to be back in an environment that he seems to be extremely comfortable in. On the other hand, I feel like his independence and comfort level there somehow reduce my more recent role as comforter and refuge. There was a brief stretch when Tobin would cry and rush toward me as soon as I walked into his classroom, then cling to my legs all the way to the car. While I was sad for him, I also felt like I filled a definite role. My role now? I feel a bit like the parent of the most popular kid in school.
Tuesday was an excellent example. When I arrived, T's class was finishing afternoon snack time. When I walked into the room, Tobin acknowledged my presence, but made it clear that his sippy cup and collection of crackers and cookies were priority #1. He continued to eat calmly for five or ten more minutes while I chatted with his teachers. When snack was over and he finally came to see me, one of the little girls in his class gave him a hug goodbye. He walked over to the poster of pictures of his family and started to point things out to two of the girls in his class. Script as follows:
(Points to pictures of Hannah): "HA-nnah!"
(Points to picture of Dad and Tobin): "Dah-DEE!"
(Points to picture of Mom): "Dah-Duh."
(Points to picture of Tobin): "Dah-DEE."
At this point, one of his teachers reached down to say goodbye and gave him a kiss on the forehead. Finally, with goodbyes said and skills appropriately demonstrated, he looked up to me as if to say "I guess you could take me home now." I said "Who are we going to see?"
He said "Halnah" while heading toward the door. In the hallway, he paused and looked up at each classroom door. His other classroom teacher came out of the kitchen, saw him and said "Tobin! Are you leaving us?" whereupon she scooped him up and gave him a half dozen kisses on his cheeks and forehead. He giggled until she put him down. We kept walking to the front door when one of his former infant room teachers walked into the hall. She saw T's new teacher as she was opening to door to go back to class and said "Didn't I tell you he was the sweetest?" Then she kissed him.
Finally, we made it to the front door. The director of the center got up from the desk in her office to say goodbye and Tobin casually blew her a kiss. Outside, we had almost made it to the car when the big kids' playground caught his eye. He took one last detour to the fence where the big kids were playing. As he surveyed it, a group of them came up to say hi. He waited silently, not moving much, then looked deliberately from his left to right at those who had come. He blew two quick kisses to them all, did an about-face, looked up at me, then said "Tuck," indicating the car that was waiting to take him home. I obliged, then called his mom as we pulled out of the parking lot, awestruck and proud of my little BMOC.