In honor of my own dear preschooler, who graduates this Wednesday.
1. Everything is interesting
Be prepared for it to take twenty minutes to make it from the house to the garage, the apartment to the car, or the minivan to the store. Every leaf, every stick, every cloud, every bird is fascinating. Delete the word “hurry” from your vocabulary, for it will fall on deaf ears. Enjoy the (slow) journey. The world is awesome, and if you watch your small person, they will teach you how awesome it is.
2. Except dinner. Dinner is not interesting. It is disgusting. Unless it’s fish sticks.
I gave up cooking things I thought my kids would like for dinner because they don’t like anything. So now I cook food Daryl and I like.
My kids eat enormous breakfasts, huge lunches, and roughly 3,442 snacks that start at 5:42am (I wish that time was an exaggeration. It so isn’t.).
Then they stare at their dinner plates like I’ve served up crocodile toenails with a side of gravel. Whatevs, kids. Kale salad is good for you.
3. Poop is hilarious.
“What are you doing, Mommy?”
“Changing your brother’s diaper.”
“Can I watch? Bahahahahaha. SO MUCH POOP!”
This is developmentally appropriate. It will also make you wonder how they will ever, ever, ever successfully go on a date someday.
4. Bathtime is gold.
Cranky kid? Put ’em in the tub. Bingo! Happy kid.
5. Their world is simple. Right is right. Wrong is wrong.
[Friend’s name] is the meanest because he wouldn’t play ninjas.
[Other friend’s name] is the nicest because she shared a snack.
Explaining nuance to your kids is important, but don’t waste much breath on it for another year or two. The world is divided into good and bad and the categories are rigid and solid and firm.
Beware the day you run out of pancake syrup and land yourself in the “bad guy” category because it’ll take you a week to work yourself back in their good graces.
6. Preschoolers remember everything.
“Hey Mom,” my 5-year-old piped up from the back seat recently. “Do you remember that time [name of friend we haven’t seen in over a year] said [this unkind thing] to me?”
I didn’t. He did. He remembers the one time I accidentally pinched his chin in his bike helmet buckle three years ago, every single car in his massive bin of Hot Wheels, and my offhanded promise at breakfast that we could have ice cream for dessert after dinner.
Preschoolers are tiny elephants, so watch what you say.
7. They are hilarious.
Someone stuck a yard sale flyer in our front door the other day. The 5-year-old grabbed it, scanned it, and quickly exclaimed:
“Mom! A yard sale! Perfect for us because we need new grass in the backyard!”
Nothing like the age where they take everything literally but are also starting to make more advanced linguistic connections. What else would a yard sale be but an opportunity to purchase some sod?
8. Memorization is easy
My son can hear a song once and know it by heart. The level of stickiness kids have at this age is astonishing. It will make you feel old, but it will also blow your mind. Time for Mandarin lessons? Yes, please. Or at least a little catechesis.
9. They can light up a room
We have donuts on Friday mornings at our house. Each and every Friday morning, our preschooler bursts from his room like a bolt of joy-infused lightning.
“YOU GUYS!” he exclaims. “DONUTS!”
10. They are almost big, but still so small
Sometimes we expect our oldest to act mature beyond his years. With such a wide vocabulary and great sense of humor, he can seem like a preteen rather than a five year old.
But here’s the thing – he’s still little. He still needs hugs and cuddles and picture books and repeated reassurances that we won’t let any Tyrannosauruses into his bedroom. At home he looks old; next to a teenager he looks like a baby.
Realizing how young he still is–five and a half years ago he was still in my belly, for crying out loud–helps me savor the time we have and take things as slowly and tenderly as he needs. The years are already flying by; no need to rush them.
Do you have a preschooler? What has your little one taught you?