For months now, my son has been eagerly looking forward to his first day of preschool. He played with his lunchbox, asked questions about his teacher, and daydreamed about what fun toys there would be at his school. On his very first day, he swiftly kicked off his shoes at the classroom door and jumped headfirst into the world of preschool with nary a look back at his sister or me. He was fine.
Two weeks of preschool later, and I’m second guessing my decision to send him to school as we already have contracted our first preschool illness—pinkeye. Oh, I know that childhood illnesses are almost a rite of passage for preschoolers, and I’ve heard school likened to a Petri dish, but I honestly thought we would have at least a month of school under our belt before I had to write “sick emails” to his teacher.
While I admittedly found my son’s illness a little annoying and inconvenient at first, at the end of his sick day, I changed my tune. For the past four years, I have managed to have a very open schedule with my children. We have had a playgroup with friends that we have religiously attended and a German class once a week, but that has been it. No music classes, no soccer, no library story times. And that has been all by design because I have completely cherished our slow-paced days together. We can meet friends at the park on a whim and stay as long as we’d like because we have nowhere to be. We can spend all day driving out to the blueberry farm and having lunch in a little town on the way home without feeling like we were missing out on some other planned activity. For someone who is reluctant to commit to structured activities, the past four years have been a lazy bliss.
And this year, with the enrollment of my son in preschool, my gently rolling days have come to a halt. We now have somewhere to be in the mornings, and I have to watch the clock all day long so that I don’t incur the dreaded late pick up fee at his preschool. Just two weeks into the school year, and I found myself contemplating having a preschool dropout for a son. And then comes his pinkeye, and I was gifted with an unexpected day of relaxation. Although the day started off with a seismic battle over eye drops, my children and I quickly realized that it was going to be a fun day—a day of puzzles on the dining room floor, grabbing a scone at the coffee shop, and picking hot peppers from the garden. In the midst of a September that is more black ink than blank spaces on the calendar in the kitchen, this quiet day with just the three of us hanging out was a welcome oasis, a special treat, and it almost makes me look forward to the next sick day.