My Little Skippy Is About To Start Preschool


My grandson Skippy, whom I have been helicopter-nannying ever since he was three months old, is three years old this month, and that means preschool. Or pre-preschool. Or pre-pre-preschool. I’m not sure. Whatever it is, he’s ready.

For the last six months, any stranger who has walked through the front door has instantly been deemed, “My friend!” — be it the FedEx delivery man, the washing machine repair person or a burglar casing the joint. Skippy is desperate for playmates, especially those not carrying AARP cards. He has also used up all his toys, despite the fact that I buy him something whenever we’re out. I’m not trying to spoil him; I believe toys are the tools of childhood. He learns something from each and every one of them — even the battery-operated whirligigs with flashing lights and maniacal tunes that I am highly prone to accidentally misplacing at the first opportunity.

We’ve taken him to every child-oriented venue around, from the zoo to the park to the waterslide to the children’s museum to the McDonald’s play place. He knows the drill at all of them, darting off to the hottest of the hot spots at each, while Mark and I race along behind, toting his sister in the supply carrier — I mean, stroller.

Did you know Ikea has a play place? Yes. Unfortunately, Skippy is an inch too short to qualify for admittance, so we play our own games — following the arrows around the store, watching movies in the cafeteria, investigating all the toys in the kids’ section and topping it off with a ride in the wacky European-style shopping cart.

We went there last week and, while I was in the restroom changing Skippy’s sister into a new outfit (disaster en route, but par for the course, really), Skippy crawled through a play tunnel into a play tent and disappeared.

I came out of the restroom (my white shirt terribly stained) and said to Mark, “Where’s Skippy?” Mark said, “In one of those tents.” But he wasn’t. We found him two sections away, playing with toy bricks in front of the movie screen and trying to talk another kid out of his chocolate milk.

That’s classroom behavior.

So, next Friday is the big day — his first day in a long line of first days that will propel him educationally toward what we hope will be a satisfying career. And all the friends he makes along the way and all the “toys” he experiments with along the way will add to the culmination. I can’t wait to see how he turns out.

I’ll be sad, of course. Almost as sad as when my own kids took their insights and imaginations off to school to share with playmates and teachers who didn’t have the time to later share them with me.

Luckily, there’s still Skippy’s little sister. At 10 months old, she’s not even walking yet, but she’s rarin’ to go. Then it’ll be locked cabinets, gated stairways and a tumble a day until she gets the hang of it. She’ll be blabbing away shortly after that, giving me her take on the world I thought I knew. I can hardly wait.