Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Preschool Edition, Part II

On a drive recently I handed Zoe a small cup half filled with cereal. After a few minutes she stopped eating and rested her head against the side of her car seat. A couple of minutes later her eyes closed. I reached back and gently removed the cup from her hand. She opened her eyes and reached out for the cup, which I handed back. Her eyes quickly closed, and after waiting a few minutes I again took the cup from her hands, and again she opened her eyes and reached for the cup. It is important to note that a sure sign that Zoe has fallen asleep is her hypnagogic jerk. It happens every time she falls asleep. So, I’m driving and waiting for another chance to grab the cup, when she does her little body jerk. I hear a rain of cereal settling about the car. However, she is still holding the cup, which still has some of its contents. Then her grip releases. Now she’s asleep.

After a difficult search, a dozen or more schools toured, registration fees sent to a handful of schools, and endless discussions with other parents at every conceivable opportunity, Zoe has managed to land one of the five girl spots at a coveted (or so I was led to believe) preschool. The entire process of getting her into a preschool caused me some stress, to the point where on more than one occasion I lay awake at night pondering the choices. My first choice was based on a number of factors, but as I mentioned in a previous post, it was the proximity to a coffee shop with free WiFi that really had me excited about the school. There is also a pizza shop across the street, a butcher that makes decent sandwiches, a cheap Chinese restaurant, a bakery, and a great independent fruit and vegetable grocer. All this and it’s only about a mile from our house, so I can easily walk there and back. I’m sorry, did you just ask me if it’s a good school? Did I mention that it was near pizza and free WiFi?

There are two toys that consume a good portion of Zoe’s attention. The first is her tea set, which I have mentioned numerous times before. I fear the word tea because it is my duty, countless times during the day, to sit down and go through the motions of serving tea. But the tedium of the activity is exacerbated by the second toy, a stuffed Minnie Mouse. Minnie must pour the tea, pour the milk, and spoon out the sugar, and Zoe has come to expect a little dance with each step. But Tea is not all. Minnie has to be included in every single activity we do. When Zoe’s diaper needs to be changed I first have to change Minnie’s diaper. If we travel from one level of our house to another, than Minnie must accompany us. And she can’t just be carried, she has to hop down the stairs. When we act out the book Barnyard Dance—another dreaded activity, performed at least a couple times a day—Minnie has to go through all of the motions. She goes with us in the car and on walks in the stroller. Zoe wanted her to join her in the bath the other day. And when Minnie went missing for a couple of hours all I heard every five minutes was Minnie. The only place that Zoe does not ask for Minnie is in her crib. Maybe she’s afraid that Minnie will hog the blankets.

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