Cross-posted to Imashalom
Today is a very special day at the JCC—the first day of school. For so many parents and their toddlers coming in with their new backpacks and nervous faces, it’s truly the first day of the rest of their lives.
My son started at the Washington DCJCC when he turned two last year. For us it was a BIG DEAL, and I’m pretty sure we were more scared than our son was. We’d put so much care and love into raising him and here we were, we thought, making him cog in a machine, just another child in a room full of children, getting 1/12 of his teacher’s attention. What if he hated it? What if he thought we weren’t coming back?
For the first week or two I would spy on him to make sure he was doing well. A few days into the year I passed-by his door and he was in full, inconsolable meltdown mode. His cries gutted me, and I wanted so badly to rush in and save him. But I knew that I’d do more harm than good, and so I forced myself to walk past. And then I somehow made my way upstairs, called my husband and cried.
Fast forward 10 months. Today our son began his second year at the Washington DCJCC preschool. Instead of being one of the babies, he’s got three younger classes below his. He’s got more friends than I can count, has made connections with loving adults who care for him almost as much as I do, and has learned an immense amount—from the ABCs and Baby Beluga to kindness and empathy and the things we do and don’t eat (FYI: we don’t eat bugs). I have no doubt that he’s going to have a great year.
While it’s never easy to watch your children grow up and need you a little less, that difficulty is balanced by the joy of watching them flourish. I made the decision to send my son to the Washington DCJCC preschool for purely logistical reasons, and barely had a sense of what I was getting us into. But today, on the first day of my no-longer-baby’s Tzavim year, consider me a Washington DCJCC Preschool Parent by Choice.