To all of you really veteran parents, this may seem trivial, but it is the night before Dominic starts pre-K and I am a mixture of excited for all of us, and also a little sad. I can so vividly remember the first few days of being a new parent and feeling like time had slowed down to less than a crawl as days and nights blurred together and the enormity of the responsibility started sinking in. Then, fast forward to this summer and he has grown into a little boy with a sharp, but boyish sense of humor. He is creative and smart enough that he has a little wit in the way he talks and thinks, but is little enough that fart jokes still trump all forms of humor. He also has a bright and active imagination, sometimes a little too imaginative for his friends (and parents) who get tired of the way he takes on the role of director and know-it-all, in playing out the scenes in his head. He has always done things his own way, and I guess as the kid of entrepreneurs we have always admired that about him.
So, a few days ago, when his day care announced that Tuesday would be hat day, we happily helped him select a hat to wear to class that day. It did not surprise me in the least when he selected one of his many firefighter helmets. Dominic loves to play fireman and less than a month ago, in the blazing heat of a Georgia July afternoon, he wanted to wear his full kids firefighter costume when I took him along to pick up lunch from McDonalds. His full costume consists of black and yellow rubber boots, full length black canvas pants, a zip up long sleeve black coat, and a belt with numerous tool holders on which he attaches a flashlight, toy walkie talkie, plastic ax and goggles. Almost no detail is missed…he looks like the worlds smallest firefighter. He wears his outfit with pride, and on that day, did not complain at all about the heat. So, wearing just a fire helmet to class seemed like it would be no problem. During the whole drive to the school, we talked about what kinds of hats his friends would be wearing. We wondered if the teacher would wear a hat. It was THE topic of the morning. He marched across the parking lot, through the lobby, and down the hallway with that helmet sitting high on top of his head.
Then, as we pushed open the glass door to his room, I immediately noticed that only one other kid was wearing a hat and that was a baseball hat. My eyes shifted to Dominic and I was devastated to see him quickly reach up and without a word, remove his helmet from his head. I could just see the embarrassment running through his little mind at being the only kid to wear a special hat. He walked over to his storage cubby and told me to just put the helmet away in the cubby.
This is why I am a little sad about him going off to pre-K. As much as I want him to grow and experience all the world has to offer, those experiences are also going to take away his innocent littleness and once it is gone, we will never, ever see it again. It made me wonder what kinds of things we would all do if we had absolutely no fear of being judged, rejected, questioned or criticized. Feel free to comment and tell me what you would do.