We had our first First Day of School today. Wally Ben started preschool. I hadn’t planned to send him this early—he won’t start kindergarten for 2.5 years. But the kid has been so darn bored during Vivvi’s morning nap, and he is attending preschool at my church with teachers I love, and he has so much energy that isn’t being burned by watching an hour of Sesame Street. And he is so smart and funny and social and tantrum-y (this is for my benefit to send him away) and passionate, that we felt it was time.

We’ve been dropping hints about what it will be like for a few weeks leading up to today to help him get ready. We took out his backpack and told him he could bring it to preschool. He immediately packed it with one pair of underwear, showed W4 and I what he had packed, and walked around the house with it for weeks. Since he didn’t have school books and is not allowed to bring toys, I asked his teacher, Teacher Penny, what we were supposed to pack in it. She said a change of clothes. So the little bugger was right.

Leading up to today, I went through various emotions. Excitement for the fun he would have and the time I would have to work and clean the house and work out and sew a project and write a book and take naps and take up a hobby (and that was just my list for the first day). Sadness that my little boy was becoming such a big boy. And dread that he would go in the classroom potty, announce loudly through the door, “Penny, I’m going poo poos!”, finish going, unroll the whole roll of toilet paper, drop it in the toilet, yell for help to wipe his butt, get his pants tangled trying to put them back on because he still feels the need to remove them entirely for number two, exit the bathroom, pants and underwear in hand, and ask for them to be untangled, and then run around the room saying, “I wiggle my butt, I wiggle my butt, I wiggle my butt!” (This scenario is an honest fear—stemmed from the fact that it plays out this way in our house 2-3 times a week.)

This morning at breakfast, Wally seemed excited and ready. He hesitated a little when he asked if Kellen or Vivvi would be there (his usual buddies at Sprouts, our church class), and we said no. We talked about introductions, and jokingly told him to introduce himself nicely and say, “My name is Walter Ben Ottenhoff V, how do you do?” Then he told his daddy that he was going to tell Teacher Penny he has his underwear in his backpack. W4 told him he didn’t have to do that.

When we got to church, all fear was shed and he was a bundle of excitement. We went inside and Teacher Penny showed us his cubby where he could store his backpack and coat, and then she went back to tend to the classroom. (But not before WV yelled after her, “I got my underwear…”) He then lined up to wash his hands and sat in the group carpet with the other kids. Penny, who knows him well, said, “How are you today, Wally?” He piped up, “My name is Walter the Fifth.” I knew then he would be okay.

I left, and could hear the start of class as I filled out an emergency card outside. They sang their first class song, and I heard Penny say, “Did anyone notice we have someone new today?” A boy who knows him from a few meetings said, “That’s Wally.” Wally then announced, this time to the whole class, “I’m Walter the Fifth!” (I don’t know if I will be joking with him about what to say anytime in the near future.) This comment was met with much silence from his 3-5 year old peers. Penny explained that this meant there were four Wallys in his family before him. Wally then said, “And I have a Dad…and two dogs.” (What am I, chopped liver?) Since I was clearly forgotten, I took off, knowing the kid would be just fine without me.

When I picked him up, we got a good report, news that he loved cutting with scissors (a first for him), and the paper with cut marks and shavings to prove it. (Shavings in an envelope! I’m going to have to be selective about what I keep that he makes at preschool—2.5 years of paper shavings will add up!)

He told me he had spilled his juice, and I when I asked Teacher Penny about that she said he had trouble pouring his juice. I’m sure he did, since he has never poured juice before either. I can just imagine his excitement, a pitcher of liquid in front of him at his disposal with no Daddy or Mommy to stand in his way. His mirth as he gloriously picked up the forbidden container and tipped it toward his glass to see what would happen. The splendor of a cup overflowing! The adventure! The newness of it all!

This is what we signed him up for. What abundant new pleasures could the next class bring for King Walter V? Only one thing is certain—he will be sure to have his underwear!

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