I love my daughter’s preschool more than a preschooler loves Elmo. It has been home away from home for all three of my children during their formative years. Yes, of course I have Mommy Guilt about having to work outside the home, even if it is just part time. Yes, I would rather be a stay-at-home mom with mad home-schooling skills, but alas, that is not to be. And since it is not meant to be, I’m glad that we have our beloved preschool. The heart of the school is the staff. Staff sounds so formal. They are actually a wonderful group of women with warm hearts, infinite patience, and creative talents. I have become friends with everyone I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. The baby has known Ms. Kim since she started coming to school at the tender age of 9 weeks old. (Darn maternity leave laws. That’s a rant for another day.) We love fun “Ms. Anchoola” and “Ms. Choody” who teach Mary Hazel and her posse things like the blessing (Goddafatha, Goddafatha…), manners (It’s not polite to hit your friends with fire trucks), and the very best ways to get their britches dirty on the playground. Speaking of which, I would like to particularly thank these accommodating women for changing hundreds of cloth diapers for me. I know this is not everyone’s thing, but no one has ever complained (to me) about having to flush the poo of a kid who doesn’t actually belong to them. That’s special.
The soul of the school is the director. I refer to her as Dear Ms. Barb, for she is certainly dear to my whole family. She is perhaps the number one reason we decided to attend this particular school. She is the kind of person you hope to be when you grow up. She is non-judgmental and loving and bakes like your favorite aunt. She makes each child who walks through her door feel like the most special little person in the world. They adore her. They all want to spend time with her (and I’m sure it is only partially because of the bottomless candy jar in her office). She will always have a very special place in my heart as she has loved our family through very difficult times and stepped up to help during our darkest days. She and her daughter were the very first people to somehow find us in the cancer clinic the day we got Mary Hazel’s diagnosis. She traveled all that way to sit in a waiting room not even knowing if she would see us just to let us know that she cared enough to do so. She brought Mary Hazel a handmade blanket decorated with sweet “baby bugs” that she created for her own daughter many years before. When transportation became a challenge for our family during the hospital stage, her family loaned us a car. (That story had an unfortunate ending. But I want to go on record to say it really wasn’t Russell’s fault.) She and her daughter took Charlie and Poppy away for a whole day last summer to play while Russell and I spent time with the baby. Charlie still talks about getting to drive the golf cart. Yes, our Dear Ms. Barb is a special find and the school she pours her heart into is a treasure worthy of her generous spirit
I don’t know if it’s sad or funny that I am usually one of the very last people in the building at the end of the school day because I’m just having too much fun chatting with these wonderful ladies and the other mamas who love it there as much as I do. These are the times I wish had the resources to acknowledge all the individuals who make going to school such a special treat. Ideally, it would be pedicures and wine and free babysitting to each of them. I suppose I could afford to do that if my monthly tuition was waived once or twice. I’ll put it to a vote. Until then, I brought just a few token symbols of my affection for the people who make the preschool our beloved home away from home. A hand-written note (from the baby), a bouquet of bright yellow spider mums, and a large bag of bold coffee for the community coffee maker. After all, maybe the key to the staff’s perkiness and eager attitude all comes down to the caffeine.
Thank you especially to Kim, Charu, Sheral, Angela, Judy, Ashleigh, Ann, Linda, and Lou for being a special kind of awesome.