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Preschool Gotcha

Hm. So, the cool thing about Simon’s days at KIP is that he has an entire emotional, intellectual, and physical life that is apart from me. I hear about preschool Simon, but by definition I can’t really know him except for what he and his teachers tell me. (This may change after spring break when I begin volunteering in the computer room.)

For the most part, I like that he has a separate life. I had no idea that he and Griffen were becoming fast friends until he told me yesterday that they played together and that he loved him. I was delighted to hear from Ms. Inessa today that “Simon is no longer shy at all” and wondered what she was seeing in music class these days.  It’s also a hoot when he pops up with some song, game, or knowledge that didn’t come from Matt or me.

Other times, this separateness can be unnerving. Like today. Yesterday was the KIP seder, and clearly Simon has been stewing over some of the information for the last 24 hours. We realized this earlier today when Simon asked Matt:

“What are the Jewish people, and why are they sad about the babies?”

Oh boy. I’d be better positioned to answer this if I knew what exactly they were told about the story of the Ancient Hebrews in Egypt. Did they tell the kids about Pharaoh’s decree that all the newly born male Hebrew babies be left to die? Or was this about the tenth plague, the slaying of the first born? I’m guessing the former, and had planned to side-step much of the story until Simon was much older.

Thankfully, I managed to dodge the tricky part of that question  by  focusing on the first part. It wasn’t/isn’t so hard to tell Simon that I am Jewish, that his Bubbie and Zadie are Jewish, that his uncles Steve and Perry are Jewish, and that his friends Baron, Veronica, Sophie, and Leah are Jewish. And God knows, I’m much rather talk about who is Jewish (Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” springs to mind), than delve into the darker chapters of Jewish history and folklore. “Simon, did you know that Kirk and Spock are both Jewish?…”

I’ve also been pondering my own reluctance to tell Simon anything at all bad. Intellectually, I know that kids hear violent fairy tales with little ill effect. It seems they are pretty sophisticated in their literary analysis from an early age. But I am just horrified by such stories and can hardly conceive that it doesn’t terrify little ones. So I’m projecting like mad.

I also think I’m hoarding his innocence. I’ve been lucky so far, in that other than references to mine and Matt’s grandparents, we have not had to mention death, disease, violence, natural disasters, loss, or separation to Simon. At three and a half, he still lives in a world where everyone is here, everyone is well, everyone is nice, and only good things happen. I doubt I can sustain that much longer; I am not even sure how long it’s desirable to sustain such a fairy tale. But he is so sensitive that I want to keep it going for as long as possible. And if I’m totally honest with myself, sustaining this fairy tale is as close as I can come to living in it myself, and I don’t want to have to give it up either.

So please, please, please, let him not ask me about the babies again.

One Response to “Preschool Gotcha”

  1. Matthew says:

    I can’t wait for Simon to call his friend Veronica because it’s time to celebrate Hanukkah.

    (Someone lobs you a softball, you gotta hit it.)

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