(Author’s last name withheld by request.)
Parents, caregivers, all manner of grown-ups, take heed! In what seemed like a typical drop-off at preschool this morning, I fear I intercepted an intricate and sophisticated plot. First of all, things fell eerily silent. Not one “Mommy” cry…Children methodically administered their goodbyes with–of all things–a firm handshake. Silently, they took their places on the rug, and not in circular fashion. Brace yourself. They formed a TRAPEZOID.
I observed one slightly disconcerted parent after another, shake their head/turn/shrug/backward glance/brush it off and soldier-on in sheer denial. I, however, discretely lingered. I re-filled 2-year-old’s diaper supply, and casually hung and re-hung snowsuits (slippery little fellas) trying to discern a note of something, well, unsavory in the air. I know preschool air always smells unsavory, but I’m talking nuance here people. Subtlety. As I began a casual cubby-search, a teacher tersely suggested I keep my hands to myself and go along on my way. Oh, I listened to her words, but not without one last glance at 2-year-old. The children had morphed their trapezoid into something resembling a crop circle. Egad, how I ran!
As I got in my car, I discovered a note safety-pinned to my back. For the sake of time I present only a selection of their manifesto:
IN A DRAMATIC EFFORT TO SENSITIZE ADULTS TO THE PLIGHT OF THE SUB-KINDERGARTEN POPULATION, THE UNDER-FIVES ASSUME AUTONOMY EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. ONCE OUR GROWN- UPS AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING FOR ONE 24-HOUR-PERIOD (AND YES, WE KNOW IT’S A DAY—WE’RE TODDLERS NOT IMBECILES) WE MAY CONSIDER REINTEGRATION. OUR DEMANDS:
LIMIT YOUR OWN DAMN SCREEN TIME. Your sneaking away to “check a few things” on the computer fools no one. We installed counters on your screens and your tally far exceeds 2 hours, before we even go night-night.
LIMIT YOUR OWN DAMN SUGAR. Why bother teaching us to count if you think “we” finished the entire bag of Oreos convinces us, when “we” got exactly 2 Oreos. Same goes for caffeine. Try only 6 oz per day, half-watered down and see what crabby feels like.
YOU MUST ASK US FOR EACH AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED OR WANT…POLITELY. If you help yourself you will be charged with “grabbing” and if you don’t use the appropriate sotto voce, you must repeat your request. Saying please expedites our service, but only when uttered in sufficiently polite tone.
IF YOU AND CO-GROWNUP FIGHT, EXPECT CONSEQUENCES. This includes camouflaged-fighting, AKA extra-slow-hushed-tone-teeth-gnashing “discussions” Consequences may include, but are not limited to later preschooler bed-times, unpredictable preschooler night-waking, and engagement with preschooler for unlimited imaginary play.
STOP TRYING TO EDUCATE US ALL THE TIME. Next time you’re reading a magazine one of us plans to interrupt you periodically and demand you tell us the color (i.e. “crimson” or “ecru”) or word count or brief summary “in your own words.” Are you trying to give us A.D.D.?
PREPARE FOR INCESSANT POTTY, FLUSHING, AND HAND-WASHING INTERROGATION. Are you sure? Just try. Did you really? Look us in the eye! Perhaps you can begin to understand the indignity of the poopy-diaper whiff.
GET USED TO HEARING “LATER” AND “NO.” blahblahblah limits blahblah security. As you’re denied and ignored, we expect full compliance-sans-snittiness.
[Prepare yourselves. this last one is a shocker…]
“GOODNIGHT MOON” BORES US. Just thought you should know. We’ve endured your nostalgia-trips nightly for many months now (tell us you’ve stopped counting in months for god sakes). Move along.
Hunker down, my parenty-colleagues. Its going to be a long day.