When Ian was two-and-a-half, and I was pregnant, Chris and I decided that our first-born needed to start preschool.  After a short search of the nearby programs that did not reject those in diapers, we decided on a place in a church basement called Friendly Faces.

I took Ian to check out the place.  He seemed to like it OK, but only because at the end of our visit, we left together.  Over the next day or two, we chatted briefly about Friendly Faces, but then the subject was dropped.  Meanwhile, I registered him and picked a start date.

On the fateful morning, I got Ian dressed and ready.  There I was, billowing around in a huge pregnancy top (this was back when we tried to hide our “outies”), and there Ian was, little and nervous and wondering what was up.  I did everything wrong.  I was coy about where he was going.  I said things like “You’re going to have fun today.  Mommy will come pick you up later, after you have lunch and a nap!”  As his face crumpled, I added, “You’ll play with other children!”  He remained suspicious.

As we drove down our block, Ian’s voice came floating from the car seat in the back.  Sounding wobbly, he said “Mommy?  Are we NOT going to Friendly Faces?”  How heart-breaking was that that one tiny word?  Clearly, he didn’t want to go there.  And yet, yes, that is where I was driving him.  I, the traitor in the maternity tent, was marching my baby into the hands of strangers, just so I could have a few hours of peace.

Weeks later, after Ian had settled in a bit, one of the teachers saw a large cat-like creature prowling through the nearby woods.  For the next few days, the children did not go outside to frolic.  On the fence of the playground hung a sign:  “Closed on account of cougar.”  

This did not inspire confidence in a place that we had taken to calling “Fiendish Faces.”  We were happy when we moved to a different town a few months later, and Ian could attend a much friendlier, and much more nurturing, pre-school.


This morning, Chris and I will drive Ian to start his freshman year at MICA.   His bike and easel are in the back of the car, along with paints, a trunkful of classic books, two pillows, and some new stuff from Target and H&M.  I expect to ride in the back seat.  And this time, it will be my wobbly voice. aimed at the backs of heads in front of me.

“Are we NOT going to college?”

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