When I see teachers now, or talk to them, I get a weird little ache somewhere behind my ribs. It’s a lot like nostalgia and a little like jealousy, and I know it’s still there because whenever I interact with a teacher, it’s almost like I …
I took Quinn to her first preschool open house yesterday. We’re a bit nervous about her starting, I’m afraid. Quinn is definitely her own person, I’ll tell you that much. If I send her up to her room, she’ll call out “I don’t WANT to!”–as she’s climbing the stairs in obedience. She will fight her bedtime, repeatedly appearing downstairs when she should be sleeping–“Watchu watching?” or “What’s that on your com-poo-ter?”–but tuck herself into bed for a nap in the afternoon without prompting. She will dance around the living room like this girl I knew in college who was basically sort of high all the time and heard a lot of music in her head, but refuses to participate in any sort of organized dance, or song, or sport, or party game, choosing instead to huddle against me with her thumb in her mouth.
Just last week, even, my mom was over, watching the girls while I ran out to an appointment. I got home, and the girls were running outside to play. Saoirse was already outside, and Quinn came flying down the stairs after digging her shoes out of her closet. She was just opening the door when my mom called, “Quinn? Are those shoes on the wrong feet?” Her toes were hanging over the edge of her sandals, the tips of her shoes pointing in crazy directions. “Yep,” she replied, and kept going. The door slammed behind her, and my mom and I were left sitting on our chairs, doubled over in laughter.
And then later that evening, we went out to grab something to eat. David was playing a softball tournament (hello, middle age!), so it was just my mom, me, and my plethora of small children. After dinner, I handed my mom a baby wipe across the table, because of course, since I have children under the age of ten, stacks of baby wipes follow me around like, well, children. “Can you give that to Quinn to wipe her face?” I asked, and nodded at Quinn to make certain she’d understood the direction. My mom and I continued talking, and I was helping Saoirse, and keeping an eye on Cian, so it took me a moment to notice my second-born daughter, her feel curled onto her chair in the middle of the restaurant, her head bent over them so that her little body formed a “C” shape.
“Quinn!” I said. “Are you wiping your feet?! You’re supposed to be wiping your FACE!”
She didn’t answer me. She just smiled. “Can I have another wipe?”
“Are you going to wash your face this time?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said. She tilted her head and smiled at me again, the mischief flashing in those cute green eyes belying the sweetness of that little grin. “Can I have another wipe?”
Oh, that’s our Quinn. I really don’t know what to say. That day in preschool, she refused to play with another girl who’d asked her to climb into a fort, then yanked a toy car from another boy’s hand like he should’ve known all along that she owned every single object in that classroom. But this is also the girl who, five minutes later, was waving and introducing herself to another group of children, and sitting down to a table to piece together a puzzle in seconds flat. She’s a girl who huddles in a corner, thumb in mouth, always afraid and reluctant to join in an activity, but then walks into a brand new gymnastics class the same evening and conquers all of the activities–BAM! There’s a somersault. BAM! There’s a cartwheel–like she’s twenty-one years old and walking into her first job interview knowing she’s got the position locked down.
I don’t get her, and I love that about her. There’s no putting the Mighty in a box, that’s for sure. But I may be bringing her preschool teachers flowers on the first day of school.
I have a feeling it’s going to be an interesting year.