Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

G is for . . . Graduation (Or, the Top 5 Things I Learned from Preschool)


Four years ago I brought my daughter to the child care program at the YMCA. I was an emotional mess. She was . . . interested in a pile of mega blocks. Somehow we made it through the first day, then the first week, and then, somehow, years went by. Today, my little “baby” donned a pint-sized cap and gown, received a diploma, and emerged a full-fledged kindergartner. And, just like that, an entire wonderful, surreal, joyful part of her childhood journey came to an end.

Except, of course, that it wasn’t just her journey, and it wasn’t “just like that.” We’ve been traveling down this path together, as a family, for years. We even added a fellow traveler along the way — a little brother to accompany my mad sprints from the preschool parking lot each morning I was late for drop off. To absorb the exuberant chaos of 18 preschoolers celebrating Mother’s Day with bagels and choreographed musical numbers. To race down the hall to her classroom when I was late for pick up. Together, we learned the ins and outs of early education, which turned out to be an education for us all.

And so, in honor of this momentous occasion, here is a list of The Top 5 Things I Learned from Preschool. Feel free to sharpen your colored pencils and take notes.

1. If you need an ego boost, walk into a preschool classroom. You’re not just Junior’s Mommy. You’re a celebrity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to hug my daughter goodbye, only to suddenly be surrounded by five-year-olds trying to join in the love fest. Or how often one of my daughter’s classmates would show me his art, eager for my approval. Or compliment the maternity dress I’m still trying to pass off as “loose-fitting” (over a year after my son’s birth) because I haven’t had time to go shopping. I’m considering hiring these kids to be my entourage. At least until I find a dress in my size.

2. “Washable” markers and paint are a cruel joke. As it turns out, they wash out of one thing only: old clothes you could care less about. You know, those size 4T jeans that fit your kid perfectly last fall, which you’re now passing off as “snug” or “trendy” until you find time to go to Target. One swipe with a damp paper towel, and they’re suddenly immaculate. That pink cashmere sweater from your child’s grandmother? It’s now permanently splattered in purple paint. The same goes for your kid’s skin. No matter how hard you scrub, that blood-red paint is never coming off your little Lady Macbeth’s hands. Fortunately, your kid probably won’t care . . . although you may get some strange looks from the other moms at the playground.

3. Preschool teachers must secretly be superheroes. Or deaf. I frequently joke that I don’t know how people have more than two kids, because the constant cries of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” in constant stereo are really all I can handle. My daughter’s teachers are responsible for 18 kids — none of whom seem aware there’s anyone else in the room. Alice needs help using scissors. NOW. Bobby needs help opening the glue. NOW. Teacher needs some aspirin . . . every day, I imagine. I am constantly grateful for my daughter’s inspirational and patient teachers, who always save the day in small yet meaningful ways — without losing their sanity.

4. We adults take A LOT of things for granted. Until I started helping my daughter learn to read, I never realized how complicated learning English must be. Here is a typical conversation during “reading time”:

Me: Here are two O’s next to each other. They say “ooh.” Like “cool” or “fool.”

Daughter (reproachfully): “Fool” isn’t a nice word, Mommy. How about “school”?

Me (excessively proud of my teaching skills): Exactly!

Daughter: Or “rude” or “dude”!

Me: Um, well, not exactly. You see, sometimes a “u”…

Daughter: Or “new” or “view”!

Me: Um…

It’s moments like these I want to skip English altogether, and start with a simpler language. Like hieroglyphics. Or Latin.

5. Even though I’m not present, I’m always there. Every day my daughter draws colorful, vibrant portraits…and nine out of ten times, the subjects are her and Mommy. She learns songs, and she can’t wait to sing them for Mommy. She makes up a story, and guess who our intrepid heroine is saving? — that’s right, her favorite damsel in distress, Mommy. All those fears I had when I first brought her to the Y — a tiny toddler my heart broke to leave — fears that she would forget all about me or our bond would be broken . . . none of them came true. Instead, even though our days took us in different directions, in the end, we always returned to each other, happy to share songs, stories, and even magic marker stains all over hands and clothing.

Perhaps this is the most important lesson for me to remember, as my daughter moves on to kindergarten. Yes, she may be moving further along her own journey, to places where Mommy can’t follow. But at the end of the day, I’ll be here to listen to her adventures, to applaud as she reads from her new favorite books, to dance with her around the living room to her new favorite songs. Because the one thing I’ve learned from these early school years is that, no matter how far baby wanders, Mommy will be always be “home.”

For more Mommy madness, check out Mommy A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the Joys, Wonders, and Absurdities of Motherhood, available at and Apple.


  1. This is really sweet.

    What color caps and gowns did they wear? From reading about your daughter, she must have demanded pink! But I am sure they were not going to give out pink clothing to the whole class.

  2. LOL @ “I’m considering hiring these kids to be my entourage.” too funny. I know when I visit my nephew’s school, he proudly says ‘that’s my aunt’ and there’s something about getting that approving nod from the little ones. Funny how that is… Also, when my nephew was learning how to read, I wanted to burst into tears with frustration – I could not teach another to read…I’m good at taking over after all the basics are done.

    • LOL. I don’t know what I’m going to do over the summer, without 5-year-olds boosting my ego and a teacher handling the reading instruction. Will keep plugging away. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I seriously love this! When my middle daughter was in kindergarten, I used to volunteer on Fridays to read to the class and I am a hugger. I will never forget when I came in, I saw giddy little ones whispering to each other in excitement “She’s going to hug us now!” LOL I started homeschooling after that and I think that’s the only thing I miss from the girls being at the private school.
    I can also relate to the English sounds, as English is my second language LOL
    And we do take a lot for granted. Gosh, I love your post!

  4. graduation is exciting no matter what age…

  5. Hahaha, I know what you mean about the ego boost. Whenever I walk into my kids classrooms, I am a total rockstar.

  6. Perfect post. The washable paint applies to my day. I picked my 5 year old up at “messy arts” YMCA camp. He was clean but as I carried his art project to the car, it dripped all over my leg and shorts. So much for heading out to Trader Joe’s on the way home.

  7. We have 2 graduations next year.. 5th and 8th grade.. it is exciting at those ages as well!!

  8. So very exciting!! Life changes are great!

  9. Being mom is amazing! Thank you for honoring us, and yourself, with this amazing post! And, yes, I can relate to so much of what you wrote, it is so true!

  10. Aww, my oldest just graduated from preschool too. I was thrilled to send him, but graduating was kind of hard, because he was in there for so long…my consolation is that my second is still in preschool, so I’ll still get to see the teachers.

    • Congrats on your oldest’s graduation! I know, it’s so hard. I have a toddler entering the Y now that my daughter has left it, so it softens the blow :) Thanks for stopping by!

  11. LOL! I had to laugh- I HATE those stupid “washable” markers and stuff- lies! ALL LIES!

  12. I love this post! I have an almost three year old and I identified immediately. I can’t imagine him graduating and getting ready for kindergarten. Congrats to you!

  13. My daughter finishes nursery this July and starts school in September, She is really looking forward to it, but I am secretly upset. As it means she’s growing up

  14. What a great list! I have one in the way so it’s fun to dream of what it will be like in four years as mine graduates from preschool.

    • Congrats on the baby to be! How exciting! Everyone says it goes by so fast…and it really does. Soon enough you’ll be at a preschool graduation, wondering how you got here :) Thanks for stopping by!

  15. You are not alone, I was a mess too when I first dropped my daughter to school. I was more stressed out than my daughter actually. YOu are right, most of the kids would love to hug you if you are willing, I get those a lot!

  16. Having a son who will be a kindergartener student in the fall, I have to agree with you 100%! Especially when it comes to the “washable” things. He would have marker, paint & even ink from getting his hands stamped for days on end! I often wondered if people thought that we just didn’t bathe him sometimes, LOL.

    • LOL! I wonder too what people think when they see my kids covered head to toe in red paint or marker! Congrats on your son going to kindergarten in fall! It’s a big transition for us mommies!

  17. Mines two but the time will be here sooner than I know when he’s ready for preschool. It’s fun to read what I’ll have in store lol

  18. Awww how sweet! Graduations always make me cry too

  19. aww this is so sweet. I love this!

  20. HAHAHA!!! Well she knows how to rhyme thats for sure! 😛 What a darling post!

  21. This was wonderfully written and all so very true!! Loved it! :) XOXO-Kasey

  22. I love this! You have written this very well. My oldest just graduated from Preschool this year.

  23. The silent letters in reading get me. It’s hard to explain those to my new reader. :)

  24. Awesome! I agree–preschool teachers must have special powers. But, so do mommies!! Love this!! Have a beautiful day and thanks for posting!

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