Kale starts preschool tomorrow, and as I mentioned in my last post, he has a whole list of goodies he is supposed to be bringing with him for the first day. One of those items I’m stumbling on and it’s brought up an interesting conversation point for me today.
The item is a letter, from us to Kale, to be included in the earthquake kit we are also bringing.
Now, I get it. This is one of those “If you’re reading this letter they don’t know where we are” type letters. And I’ll write something, grudgingly, that tells Kale how much we love him, and I’ll include a lovely memory from something fun we did. He will have a treasured letter from us and there will be no snark or sarcasm in the letter.
But this whole thing annoys me. It feels like lip service. It feels like something a government committee decided that all children’s service providers should ask for. It’s probably some sort of licensing rule. It feels kind of pointless. Never mind the fact it is unlikely I will ever be unable to get to Kale – chances are if there is a “big one” I’ll be walking up there and collecting him myself within a few short minutes. We live a ten minute walk from the preschool. If there is enough time for the preschool to actually sit down and start sharing the contents of his “earthquake kit” with Kale before I arrive to collect him, then I’m dead, and a letter won’t be much comfort at the time. As well, the practicality of a preschool instructor sitting down with my son and reading him a private letter (since he’s three and can’t read it himself) during the middle of a catastrophic event is a farce. The two employees are going to be: a) freaking the heck out about their own families and safety and b) have 15 other children to ensure are kept safe and fed with those 6 nut free granola bars and 6 juice boxes their parents are supplying.
This beef isn’t about the absurdity of a letter to my child in the event something terrible happens – I like the idea of it and I do plan to leave a letter with my brother and sister in law, who are appointed as Kale’s legal guardian should anything happen to both Ross and I. We tell Kale every single day how much we love him and we share hugs and kisses and all sorts of affection for one another. We have many fantastic photos of all three of us enjoying ourselves as a happy family. Kale will have many visual reminders of our familial love should something terrible happen. A letter in his preschool earthquake kit is not the only talisman he would have access to.
But, in a bigger picture sort of way, this brings up a whole other issue for me. Where is the line between what the duty of the preschool instructors (or soccer coach or teacher or girl guide leader etc) and what is our responsibility as the parents? I mean, I don’t expect anyone to parent my kid – sure they can discipline him in a way I have already deemed acceptable after I did my due diligence and got reference checks and observed the classroom and all that stuff – but I relieve my child’s service providers from the job of parenting Kale. That’s our job, not theirs. I get it that kids spend great blocks of time with various other trusted adults, but it is our job to raise Kale, and teach him all the things we believe he should be instilled with. It is NOT the job of a preschool employee to lead Kale through grief. It is not their job to parent him. It is their job to lead him through activities and teach him skills and make sure he’s not a jerk while that’s happening.
I hear about many parents who drop off their kids to various service providers, whether it is school or extra curriculars etc, and long for someone else to do the job. I have been one of those service providers before, as a coach, as a girl guide leader, and as an all-day babysitter. Parenting is hard, extremely hard – I get that. I struggle every day to balance it all and still maintain a good disposition and be a good example and I regularly teeter between age appropriate “filter” and “censor” for Kale. Every day I am faced with choices about how I demonstrate behaviour and interact with my son. So I understand there are parents out there who have reached a breaking point, or perhaps never started out on the right foot in the first place, and would just like to drop their kid off and let someone else do it and pick up a well parented kid at the end of the day.
I don’t have an answer to this. I’m actually kind of surprised that *this* has become the issue I cling to and let fester in my brain as my child has knocked off yet another item on the Great Invisible To-Do Life List and is taking the first step toward school. Maybe this hits home for me because subconsciously, I am scared of not being there for Kale if something terrible happened. Maybe I just don’t want the preschool teacher to do what defines me as a mom, as if her completing that task somehow takes away a part of my identity.
What do you think? Where is the line?