Being a mother to a preschool age child means many things. It means cracking up when they say something silly, or feeling helpless when they are sick. It means exasperation. You learn that there was a whole new level of humbleness that you were not aware existed before. And of course it means a whole mess of bodily fluids--snotty noses constantly gooping, midnight bed-wetting accidents, and more puke than you care to think about. It means worry, and more worry and worrying some more.
But the biggest gift my preschooler has given me are short, vivid moments of pure nostalgia. She makes me remember what it was like when I was four years old. Witnessing the way a preschooler thinks, reminds you that you used to think that way too.
Before I go any further...I must show off my four year old daughter "Chatterbox". Here is a photo I took of her just the other day:
If you don't mind me saying so, I think she is a beauty. But behind those little eyes, that brain of hers is in overdrive. And though her mouth is closed in this picture, this is usually not the case (hence the nickname "Chatterbox"). She is a pistol and a wildflower and I love her more than I thought possible.
Watching her grow up and listening to her thoughts reminds me what it was like when:
1. Going to the grocery store was not a chore that needed finishing. It was fun. It was time spent alone withm mom. It was all about heading straight for the cereal aisle and looking for the box offering the best prize regardless of calories or sugar content.
2. There was nothing better than getting permission to go outside after dark, past bedtime, in pajamas to run around and catch lightning bugs.
3. The only use for money was to listen to it plink into the bottom of my piggy bank.
4. Women became mothers merely because they wished really hard to have a baby.
5. There was absolutely no concept that the world was round, that there was war, that there was famine, that some people were evil, that the people I loved would die someday, and that it was not a given that tomorrow would be just as good as today.
6. Going to "school" meant entering a colorful place filled with the smell of paint, crayons, and Scholastic book orders. Where teachers read stories, and passed out snacks, and where it was fun to take part in show and tell. Where there weren't rich kids, or poor kids, black or white kids, fat kids or skinny kids, smart kids or slow kids- there are only "our friends".
7. No matter what, it was safe when lying between mommy and daddy in bed.
8. Someone would bring "just one more drink" every night after getting tucked in.
9. There wasn't laziness, or bad headaches or too many chores to prevent playing outside. The answer was always "yes".
10. It was the best feeling in the world to cross the monkey bars the whole way all by myself.
11. Mom and dad always knew the answer. And they could fix absolutely anything.
12. Looks were not important. Clothes were not important as long as my new tennis shoes made me run fast, and panties were pretty enough to show off to strangers.
10. The best part about vacation was swimming in the hotel pool and sharing a bed with mommy.
11. Going for a walk didn't have anything to do with exercise.
12. There were no reservations about believing that a fat man would squeeze down the chimney and deliver toys.
13. Bedtime stories
14. There was no shame in answering "Dish washer" or "be a dog" to the question about possible future careers.
15. Streaking naked through the house after a bath was acceptable.
16. Using imagination was an every day occurrence.
17. It wasn't necessary to "fit in" with anything.
18. No days were thought of as "wasted"
19. Looking at the pictures and inventing a story were just as good as actually reading it.
20. Someone would hold your hair while you threw up and bring you 7-up and Ritz Crackers with peanut butter when you started to get your appetite back (while you watched Brady Bunch).
21. There was no comprehension that someday you would move out of your parent's house.
22. All you felt, all the time, was unconditional love.