Parenting Guru: Getting Dad Ready for Preschool!

It hardly seems worth mentioning that life goes zipping on by when it's the last thing on our minds, but whatever, I'm going to bring it up anyway.

My daughter, Violet, is 4 pushing 5 now, and I just got back from her first official day at preschool. It was one of those 'Parents-can-come-along-too' type of first days, but still. It was my baby girl's first day of going to a place that has some serious school-ish vibe to it, and my mind is fairly blown.

Violet has attended a YMCA daycare program for almost two years now, so she is no stranger to being around other kids and listening (usually) to what grown-ups in charge tell her, and I am finding that this is helpful for a guy like myself who is having a little trouble taking all of this in. Don't get me wrong, I want her to go to preschool and I'm really proud of how she's excited about it and all, but there are huge tracts of Daddy Wilderness inside of me that want her to remain here by my side... forever, I guess.

That's not going to happen though, and I trust in the fact that I don't even really want it to happen really, so I think knowing that she has become so well-adjusted to hanging out away from Mom and Dad and being with other kids her age and listening to grown-ups in charge, all of that has been a huge relief for me.

But wow. Just, wow.

My sweet, tiny baby girl. What happened?!

Watching her grow up so fast like some kind of bionic sprout, it just makes my head spin. I remember when it was, like, just a few hours ago....and I was gently squishing and squirming her short, soft six-month-old chubby legs into the Baby Bjorn so I could take her on long afternoon hikes with the dogs and me.

We went hiking in the woods; how did we ever end up here, on the steps of the school?

Thank goodness she has been so cool about it all. Not once has she shown any trepidation about going to this new place with all new people. Instead, each time we've driven past the building where her new class is housed, she has pointed wildly out the window and hollered, "There's my new school! Right there it is!"

Just that sort of optimistic youthful attitude has helped her lift me up out of my partial blues a bunch, I think.

Plus, when her mom or I ask her stuff about whether or not she's looking forward to meeting some fresh faces and making brand new friends, Violet always seems to just break out with an easygoing smile and answer the question simply with an earnest, "Yes. I am."

What a cool dink of water. I remember getting ready for first days of school by weeping like a grief-stricken widow as I dry heaved into the basement sink and tried to use dramatics and forced illness to get my mom to let me stay home from day one. I used those ploys in first grade, and, I'm not really stretching the truth much when I tell you, I used them every single school year up until 10th grade, too. (By 11th grade, I gave up. I knew I wasn't missing the first day of school unless I got eaten by a shark or a bear.)

So, I'm a really happy, proud dad even though I'm shaking like a leaf half the time, and fighting back big Man Baby tears the other half.

Without even knowing it, Violet has used that sort of magic spirit and endless curiosity that make her and so many zillions of other kids her age so darn cool to let me know, in a roundabout way, that everything is going to be just fine. And I needed that. I really did.

So here's to new beginnings: for our best little friends in the world walking into those classrooms all by themselves this school year.

And for us parents, too, trying hard to act like we just have something in our eye as we pull the car away from the curb and watch that preschool disappear in the rear-view mirror.