Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The girls love an artist

Late last week, a local college's Child Development Center gave us a call to let us know we'd reached the top of its waiting list. And thus, another transition has arrived: Our little boy, at the tender age of two and a half, is about to begin preschool.

Mind you, I love being a full-time dad. As one of his grandmothers has pointed out, I get to witness so many of those moments most dads miss, and I wouldn't trade those moments for anything. But there are a couple of disadvantages to our "nuturing environment," most notably the absence of other children.

We're still pretty new to town, having been here only since late September of 2006, and as such we don't know a lot of people here, let alone families with small children. That's made it difficult to get out little guy socialized; the most regular time he gets to spend with other kids tends to be either at the park or at the local shopping mall's padded play area, and even then he's more likely to seek out a game of "Tackle" with Dad than he is to play with other kids.

He does have friends, but it can be heartbreaking to hear him mention them.

"Play with Max?"

Max lives two hours away now, Buddy, back where we came from.

"Go to Amelie's house?"

Amelie lives nearly seven hours away, in southwestern Arizona.

"See Jared and Jonah?"

Five hours away, in southern Los Angeles. "Mall play area, Buddy?"

Just doesn't seem the same as the childhood I'd had, where the backyard sandbox was the hot spot for a tee ball team or two of toddlers.

So, preschool seems to be a good option. Thanks to expense, we'll be starting him at a mere half-day per week, but hopefully that'll be an adequate start for him to get his socialization feet wet.

As an intro, we made a two-hour visit to the preschool last Friday. Great teachers, plenty of other two- and three-year olds, lots of educational toys and two outdoor playgrounds, all ready for The Boy's energetic presence. And with all of that available, what did he immediately gravitate toward?

The easel. Three jars of paint, well-used brushes and a blank paper canvas were simply irresistible to our little man.

So, within a couple of minutes, one of his future teachers wrapped The Boy in a smock that looked like something out of a hospital's X-ray chamber and placed a paintbrush in his hand. And within seconds, a couple of things happened.

First, he smeared the canvas with splotches of red and yellow, giggling the entire time.

Next, he tossed the brush aside and wrecked his outfit, jamming his beefy little bare hand in the blue paint jar. Instant fingerpaints.

And finally, he noticed the small crowd of other toddlers gathering to watch.

All girls. All grinning at my little boy.

Dad let out a small sigh of relief. "You know," I told the teacher, "the only way he'd be doing better right now is if he had an electric guitar in his hand."

Keep it up, my little man. All the girls love an artist.

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