Thursday, August 15, 2013

The First Flight Away From The Nest

It's official. My three year old is now old enough (and potty trained) to make his mark in the world one discovery at a time. Whether it be learning how to sit in a circle and follow directions, or learning how to be in a social setting with other kids (including how to NOT stand awkwardly close to another human and stare without saying a word), or figuring out how to cope and manage without me and in the arms of another trusted adult, or even how to write, read and do simple math on his own, my son, my baby, has been proving to me that he's ready to start his long journey in fleeing the nest.

Just like a baby bird, Henrik has been flapping his three year old wings and pushing us to let him do more. He wants more chores, he wants more order, he wants more responsibility. He lit up when we taught him how to properly retrieve his brother as Theo raced down the street to the park on his own. Henrik was thrilled when we took him on a bike ride and let him go a few houses ahead of us. It was Henrik who said, "Dad, I need a helmet when I ride my bike" or "Mom, these are the three things we have to do to be big: get dressed, poop on the potty and clean our toys". He's fascinated with this world where he can be in charge, where he's the boss, where he has clout and independence. He wants to read, he wants to write, he wants to play with the big kids and doesn't have as much interest in babies and toddlers, he wants to know everything in the world. "Mom, WHY does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly?" "Momma, I don't understand what these letters are telling me." "Mom! I DID IT".  He's starting to understand that the world is at his fingertips and he can literally do whatever he decides to do.

Henrik had his first real Daddy Date the other day. They went to see Turbo at the theatre. At first, (from what I understand) he was worried that Theo and I weren't there, but he quickly understood that he was old enough to see a movie in a theatre. A few days later, we discovered that he didn't have any shoes he could wear to ride a bike, so he and I went and had a Mommy Date. Our date wasn't nearly as much fun as the movie, but we got to talk a lot about how he was growing and how he needed to get new clothes and shoes because he was getting bigger everywhere. We even picked out new underwear and got a new shirt. We ended our date with lunch where we just enjoyed talking to one another, like friends or grown ups.

Henrik's entrance to Preschool isn't out of the blue, but it was faster than I thought it would be. Just two days from the day I called to his first day, and it seemed like I was over there flapping my wings and pushing him out. Eric and I knew that school would be good for him. But there were so many, SOOOOO many things to think about: were we really starting to pay for school? Was he old enough? Really? When did that happen? I stay home and do a preschool program with the boys, wasn't that good enough? Shouldn't he socialize? Shouldn't he get used to being on his own? Wouldn't I do anything for alone time with Theo? Am I neglecting Hank because Theo is getting attention? It's in the afternoon, dang. Is it too much? Oh my God, the boys need a break from one another, they are always together and are fighting like cats and dogs, maybe they need their own space and own time. Are we really committing our three year old to something for nine months? It's just a normal routine, he won't even notice after a while. The list goes on, forever.

Today, when I took the paperwork back to the school I brought Henrik with me. On the way there we pointed out that you could see our neighborhood and our brown house from his school! He could see Pike's Peak, and the runway, and all of the planes landing from his classroom. He was right across the street from Daddy's work and the grocery store. We noticed all of the kids playing on the playground and having fun without their Moms and Dads. When we toured the school I pointed out the directions, "Oh look, you walk past the caterpillar... and then past the butterfly... around the corner and.... next to the mountain lion!" We noticed that there were sometimes TWO teachers in a room too. I think I was doing it for myself really, he walked proudly down the hall studying every room and every picture. When we arrived at his room, his teacher looked up and let out a big smile. She bounced right over to the door and greeted us. She got right down to Henrik's level, shook his hand, introduced herself and asked him his name. She invited us in to play and check it out. Henrik was curious and cautious now. He knew that I wasn't allowed in there on school days, but as she showed him his cubby and where his backpack would go, where the cars were and where they do projects and have snack he loosened up. He checked out the "perfect for me" potties and the "perfect sink"and noticed a lot of familiar toys and books as he scanned the room.

As we were leaving I felt like I was making the right choice, I knew his teacher would be wonderful. I knew that he liked her. I knew that he would be in good hands. I also knew that he'd probably cry and I probably would too. Just before we left his teacher took his picture so it could go on his cubby, when she was finished and as we were saying our goodbyes, she said, "see you tomorrow! Can I have a High Five?" He quickly gave her one. He usually reserves High Fives for family. Then, he asked her for one. And just like that I saw my baby stretch and stretch and stretch until his wings were elongated, flapping and reaching for that first taste of flying.

When we got home from school I asked him if he was excited, "quite excited actually, mom". Again, astonished at his ability to, at least for now be fearless, I snuggled in close while we watched a show and had quite time together. He fell asleep before the show was over, he slowly laid his head down on my breast and wrapped his arms around mine. Maybe he's not totally leaving the nest. Maybe he's just going on three hour adventures twice a week and he's still got enough room to wiggle in that nest after all.

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