To the caregivers:
The Grammas and Grandpas,
The Dads and Moms,
The Nannies and Aunties,
Who fight the good fight every day or three days a week to drop off their precious little monsters at preschool.
I see you lugging your preschooler and their even younger siblings in for drop-off, getting that stroller and car seat and diaper bag and school bag out, and holding on to all the wiggly, sticky hands as you cross the parking lot full of anxious drivers wanting to use up every quick minute of the short preschool day.
I see you braving the wind and rain and ancient elevators and narrow hallways, herding those little explorers past water fountains and coat racks to deliver them safely to the wonderful hands who will teach and entertain them (and be entertained by them) for a few hours while you do other important work.
I see you there in the hallway, negotiating with a tantruming toddler who is wearing the wrong shoes (even though they were his favorite yesterday) and acting like this is the first day of a life sentence to hard labor instead of a Tuesday in the fifth month of school.
I see your faces as you are nearing the end of probably the 17th task you’ve had today, at 9 am, to leave that wee one with someone else. You can’t help but smile at the other little sweeties making the same trek. They’re so cute when they aren’t ours, aren’t they? You make eye contact with the other caregivers, and you speak without talking, “We’re almost there! We did it! They’ll be fine. Let’s get out of here!”
I think of how simple it was for our ancestors; just plopping the toddler down in the mud or field and going on with their work. They knew the other people in the village would help keep an eye on them, as all the children were all of theirs. Even though our society has evolved and now we have a complicated system of car seats, traffic laws, background checks and classroom rules, we’re still essentially plopping them down and going on with our work. We know that all the children are all of ours.
So, cheers to you caregivers dropping off. This is a good work we do. We may or may not miss these days when the tots get old enough to make their own way to a longer school day, but we can know they’re meaningful now. The important work we do on these days isn’t just what we “get” to do while our kids are in their brightly decorated classrooms.
It’s good work to get them out of the door at a tortoise’s pace and to handle one hundred questions or protests from the back seat. It’s good work navigating the obstacle course of crowded parking lots and hallways. It’s even there in the “been there” smiles to our fellow caregivers.
It’s this way we’re demonstrating to these little ones that we belong to each other, and it’s well worth the hard work to be together. It’s showing them that we aren’t their only caregivers worthy of trust, and that this is a good world for them to be a part of. As slow as they move to get ready for preschool these days, they’ll be flying out of our nests tomorrow. It’s good for us to see that we’re not caring for them alone, and it’s good to practice the handoff.
I’m proud of us, preschool drop-offers! Good work!
(See you at pick-up!)