Getting Preschooled

*Note from the editor: This week… we’re stalking one of my favorite Dad writers, Alan Kercinik. He writes at Always Jacked about life with his son, Jack. Alan’s writing honestly captivates me. I laugh, I cry, I am often transported, as if I’m watching a scene in a movie. Isn’t that what good writing is about? So sit back and read as he unravels a tale of preschool enrollment.

Now that Jack is two years old, it’s high time for us to start focusing on his academic career.

Both of our alma maters are in the mix, which is good because blue and orange look good on him. (University of Illinois for me, Bucknell for her.) Stanford has some good programs. And, despite it’s ridiculous price tag, we have to consider Harvard.

This is all nonsense, of course. But it feels that way, a little, as we enroll the boy into preschool.

One of the reasons that we recently migrated to the northern suburbs of Chicago was for schooling. As we looked at programs in the city, we were shocked by the cost. We could buy a small car for the price of dropping Jack off to shove crayons up his nose three days a week.

It’s considerably easier to find a suitable preschool where we live now. We toured our top choice last week. There is no three year waiting list. Tuition is far from five figures. But it’s still a little stressful.

Stressful. That’s probably the wrong word.

Stress isn’t quite I was felt when we walked into each class to watch a group of young and happy children, playing or painting or digging into dirt and pretending to garden. Stress wasn’t what I felt when I held Jack up to a wall so he could touch the small ceramic squares that had been painted by the school’s students. Stress isn’t what I felt while we talked to the principal about curriculum and theories on discipline and what a typical day looks like.

I felt wistful. The boy, on the other hand …

Our first stop was the four-year old classroom. There was no hiding behind a parental pant leg or asking to be held. He immediately bolted to a table of four little artists and slapped his hands onto a plate of finger paint. He played well in every class. On our last stop, to see his fellow two-year olds, he offered a toy to a crying little girl. “Sad. Sad.” he said, looking at me, then looking back at the kid in question, car extended.

I’m sad, too, that I’m saying the first of my many good-byes to him. That my position, as one of the twin centers of his little world, is so quickly about to end.

But I’m so proud of him. How could I not be? He’s running, literally running, toward the potential of a larger world with a smile on his face. How often do you see that, a person so happy while confronting change and new challenge and uncertainty?

I’m probably reading into this. He’s two. It’s preschool. There were new toys. I get it.

Even so. I’m hopeful that it’s an indicator of how he’ll live. That he’ll take that attitude with him everywhere he goes. Even if it makes me a little sad to watch him leave.


  1. Cass says:

    “We could buy a small car for the price of dropping Jack off to shove crayons up his nose three days a week.”

    I like this guy.

  2. alice says:

    What a lucky kid Jack is! Someday he’ll read your blog entries and have a total photo of what his childhood looked like. Don’t all kids want to hear their growing up stories?
    Love your writing.

  3. Molly says:

    Another great story Alan – and I agree with Alice. Jack is so lucky to have these stories captured for when he gets older.