One of the difficulties I encountered with Andrew at preschool is that it is sometimes difficult for him to say goodbye. I have tried speech therapy, but that has not worked.
For the first month and a half of preschool, I would always say goodbye to him at the school yard gate. As I closed the barbed wire/electrical security gate, Andrew would press his hands and face against the railing and wave goodbye to me...as a jolt of electricity surged through his body. He would remain at the gate until I turned the corner of the building and began running and screaming, "FREE AT LAST!"
But when I started work, I found out that they don't allow the kids to play outside at the beginning of the day. Instead, they gather in a classroom and play inside until the yard is ready for the kids. I asked a teacher why the kids can't play outside immediately and she mumbled something that sounded like homeless fecal matter.
Saying goodbye inside did not sit well with Andrew. He was so used to the morning routine of saying goodbye at the gate that he began to throw fits every morning at school when we had to say goodbye inside the classroom. I figured after a week, Andrew would get used to it; he did not.
But I finally found an inside routine that makes Andrew happy. One of the classrooms has a half door, and I use that as a puppet stage. I crouch behind the door, raise my arm, and use my hand as a puppet to say goodbye to Andrew.
The first time I realized this was a success, I was pretty proud of myself. I finally found a way to say goodbye to Andrew inside the preschool without him throwing a gigantic fit. I imagined the preschool teachers were going to lift me into the air and declare me Parent of the Year.
But as the days turned into weeks, I began to feel a little foolish having to do this puppet show every morning. There were a few times when I tried to sneak out, but Andrew would politely yell, "Daddy! Puppet show, dammit!"
For some reason, I also feel like the teachers find me rather strange. I doubt they have ever seen a father put on a puppet show every morning for their kid. But perhaps I did go overboard one day when I performed the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan with some paper marionettes.
And then it dawned on me that who really cares what I think or other people think. As long as you're able to make your kid happy, that's all that really matters. It really sucked to see your kid's crying face as the last thing you saw before going to work. It's so much better to see Andrew's big smile even if that smile is suggestively saying, "I love my dumbass dad!"