A Preschool Visit Brought Up An Unusual Issue


There’s trouble afoot at Tessie’s day care

I went to pick her up yesterday and she had had a “potty accident” at naptime. No big deal. She had extra underwear in her backpack and, failing that, there were about a dozen boxes of Pull-Ups on the shelf.

(A Pull-Up is that magical stepping-stone to sleeping through the night. It is like a diaper but, as every two-year-old knows, it is not a diaper because you ‘pull it up.’ Think Depends for the diminutive set.)

At any rate, the teacher had changed Tessie’s clothes and was in the process of fastening her shoes when Tessie pointed to the new girl next to her and told me, “I like her.”

“Really, what’s her name?” I asked.

“Jackie!” interrupted a three-year-old nearby, then, “He’s a boy!”

I double-checked my source, Tess, who looked confused; the teacher, who looked miserable; and Jackie, who looked like a girl to me — long hair, feminine-looking face and play clothes that look like every other preschooler’s play clothes, sort of nondescript.

“He’s a boy!” the three-year-old insisted, and the teacher said, “Enough, Jason!”

“Whatever,” I said.

“My parents say I’m a girl,” said Jackie quietly.

I know about the transgender issue but I hadn’t expected to encounter it at day care. I suppose, potty accidents being rampant in the class, that Jason had seen something that, to him, was pretty convincing.

Or perhaps it was just something that he had been told. And, given her response, I was dying to ask Jackie if she thought she was a boy or a girl.

Fortunately for me, Tess was already rummaging around in her cubbie, making sure she had the painting of flowers for her mom and the sweater she had worn that morning. She’s very responsible that way. And she’s a talker.

On the drive home, she told Mark and I that she was studying opposites.

“OK, then what’s the opposite of ‘big’?” Grandpa asked.

“Little!” she shouted, so proud.

“What’s the opposite of ‘on’?”


Oh, she was in her glory, the little smartypants.

“What’s the opposite of ‘push’?”

Sudden silence as she pondered this, then, “Be nice!” (Yes. No pushing. Be nice.)

She cracks me up.

Grandpa continued the quiz show, and I was dying to ask Tess the opposite of “girl,” but I didn’t. I didn’t because I no longer know the answer. More and more, I think of human sexuality as a spectrum rather than two poles. I don’t know if that’s a plausible explanation, but it works for me.

And I fervently hope Jackie finds her comfortable place along that spectrum.