Preschool in the Pandemic: We didn't get to say goodbye
This preschool year wrapped up this week for my three year old, and this certainly wasn’t the way I expected the year to end. When I registered him in February for PreK at a new school, one much closer to the elementary school my kindergartner attends, I was both sad that he wouldn’t spend his PreK year with the friends he’s been with for three years now, and also relieved that I could cut my daily school pickup and dropoff driving time down by more than half. I comforted myself with the thought that he still had a few more fun months to spend with his friends, looking forward to the spring and all of the fun events and activities that come with it.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit and life as we knew it changed. Instead of heading to preschool three days a week, he has stayed in his pajamas most days and once a week, logged on to a Zoom meeting to see his friends and teachers through a screen. Instead of celebrating the end of year with popsicles at class parties and watching an adorable end of year program that’s been practiced for weeks, we drove through the carpool loop to wave at his teachers from a safe social distance. Instead of dropping him off for his last day and picking up his end of year book, looking through his artwork and photos from the year in the car while I wonder how it went so fast, his teacher contactlessly placed a bag containing his end of year book, gift, and change of clothes in the car.
As much as I’ve enjoyed parts of the slower pace of life and extra time with my children right now, I also miss the joy of seeing his face light up when he sees me after school. I miss pulling up in the carpool line to the biggest smile, and exclamations of “Mommy!”. I miss hearing him tell me about the friends he played with on the playground and what his favorite part of school was. I miss opening his folder in the parking lot to see his artwork and having him proudly tell me what he made. I miss all the special events--Muffins with Mom, the end of year program, the class parties and last day celebrations. I miss having the chance to take a last day picture of him in front of his classroom or with his teachers.
Now, the year is over, we're moving on, and we didn’t get to say a real goodbye. So, to all the teachers he's had so far: we will miss you.
Thank you for teaching him not just colors and shapes, ABCs and 123s, but for teaching him the most important things: how to share, how to be a good friend, and how to try again when something doesn’t work the first time. Thank you for drying his tears when he has a hard time saying goodbye to me. Thank you for encouraging him to be more independent, for being patient with him when he’s not, and for celebrating the progress he has made. Thank you for helping him make precious homemade Mother’s Day gifts and Christmas presents, for giving him the thrill of presenting a gift that he has made. Thank you for the care that you put into your classrooms, the attention to detail in making them fun and inviting, the energy that you put into putting together fun new activities for your students. Thank you for the experiences you have created--the performances and art galleries and opportunities for students to shine. Thank you for your enthusiasm, your creativity, and your love for teaching.
The impact you have on little lives is big, and it is important. Thank you for helping him grow.