His hand squeezed my left index finger with all its might as we approached the building. After the past week of, “I don’t want to go!” over and over, and knowing how nervous he gets when more than a couple other kids are around, I was fully prepared to stay in the classroom during this first day of church preschool.
His face looked so serious, like he was going to an execution instead of an hour-long period of stories and crafts. I had promised him that if he tried it 2-3 times and still didn’t like it he wouldn’t have to go anymore. And then we were there, in the doorway. The teacher introduced herself, and one of her many teenage helpers. And the next thing I knew, my preschooler was letting go of my finger, taking the hand of a tall boy named Will, and heading to the colorful rug to read a few books.
He didn’t even look back.
That was two weeks ago.
This week, when he came running out, he was smiling. And then, so quietly, “I think I like it.”
I can’t begin to explain how much those 5 words mean to me, and to my husband. We have watched him run, crying like he was injured, from the table when a group of 3 kids came to sit with him at a birthday party. He has clung to my fingers, pinching them in his anxiety, while we watched his big sister play in those indoor play areas. Just last week when it looked like there would be more than 2 kids at library story time, he looked terrified and begged me to leave.
I know that a big part of his success at church preschool stems from the fact that there are so many teens who have volunteered to help. With just 12 students and 6 teen helpers plus the teacher, he is getting that needed individualized attention from a “big person,” which makes him feel more confident.
There is no doubt about it, church preschool and those who volunteer there are at the top of things I am thankful for this week.