The 4 Lessons Preschool Teaches Dads (and Moms)

You've witnessed a lot of firsts in your child's life—the first time she walked, the first time she talked, the first time she sneezed in your mouth. Your heart melted the morning when she first said "I love you," and you cried the first afternoon that she accidentally head-butted you in the crotch. But these milestones will all culminate on the day you send her off into the world to be part of a 3-year-old society, best known to us regular folks as Preschool.

And nothing prepares you for your child's first day of school.

The truth is, you're not prepared for it because ... well, it's your first day of school, too. Sure, you've already learned your ABCs and 123s and how to successfully predict your future spouse, car and kids with a game of MASH; but now you're a parent, and parents have new lessons to learn. So I've decided to share them with you. Here are the 4 Lessons Preschool Teaches Dads (and Moms):

Lesson #1: You are a giant.
Our first day of Preschool didn't start on Tuesday; it started months ago when we visited the school. Everything—the furniture, the lockers, the hallway—was very, very little. Freakishly little. The coat hangers were so close to the ground, I threw out my back just looking at them. The desks were so small I could wear them as shoes. And the toilet was so tiny that I'm pretty sure even Barbie would have a tough time squeezing her cheeks on it. If it weren't for the warmth of the teaching staff and the reminder from my wife that I was "like a thousand times larger than the kids that would use this stuff" (thank you, wife), Ella would be at home where the desks are big enough to hold kegs and the toilets are big enough to hold butts.

Lesson #2: School is more interesting than Dad.
When I told Ella about preschool, I couldn't believe how excited she was. Anytime I mentioned it, her face lit up like a sparkler. All summer long our conversations eventually turned to "School this" and "School that" and "When does it start?"—to which my wife would reply, "Too soon ... Oh too soon." I once asked Ella if she loved me, to which she replied, "I love school!" When you lay out the facts (I've loved, cared and hugged her every day of her wonderful life vs. school, a place she's visited the same number of times she's driven the car, which is zero), you can see why she'd pick school over me. Score: School = 1, Dad = Same number of times Ella has driven the car (still zero).

Lesson #3: Her day of firsts is also your day of firsts.
It's your first day of dropping her off. It's your first day of picking her up. It's your first day of running late because you can't find her Dora bookbag—even though you've done nothing but trip over it on the living room floor for the past two weeks. It's your first time signing up for the snack sheet. It's your first time embarrassingly e-mailing the teacher to tell her you already forgot what dates you signed up for. It's your first time dropping off her younger sister at the sitter's house all by herself (and younger sister gives you the very sad Why-Are-You-Guys-Leaving-Me-All-By-Myself puppy dog eyes). And it's your first day realizing that you are going to have to do this twice a week for the next 9 months.

Lesson #4: Let her go.
Funny thing about kids: From the minute our children are born, we can't wait to watch them grow up and see what kind of upstanding members of society they will be. Then the minute they're ready to test the waters of society in school, we desperately want to shrink them back up into babies again—with big squishy cheeks, toothless smiles and complete and utter dependence on us. These emotions torment and scare me much like the Reds bullpen, but deep down I know I need to show a little faith and just let her go.

So I'd just like to wish my little girl good luck. I'd also like to wish all the parents out there good luck too. We want to think about our kids learning their ABCs and 123s and finding out their future through a game of MASH (in case you were wondering about my results, I will marry Winnie Cooper, have 2 kids, settle down in an apartment in Guam, drive a Green BMW and will become a Genie), but we don't want to think about what that means to us—losing a grip on our sweet little babies. I guess we can chalk that up as another first.

Thankfully I'll have Winnie Cooper to comfort me.

The Life of Dad is updated every Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

(Note: This post is dedicated to the loving memory of Matt Donnelly. You'll be missed.)

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