Lions, homework, and rockets, oh my

As our daughter gets older—she turned 3 last week—things are becoming more advanced at daycare. For example, I am no longer supposed to call it daycare, but “school,” since she is technically in the preschool program. She has a homework folder now, so things just got real. Last week after I picked her up and drove away, I realized I forgot to take her homework folder, so I had to turn around, get her out of the car in the 110-degree heat, and go back in and get it, at which point I left my only pair of sunglasses there. When I got home I had to call daycare school, which is always weird for me since I feel the need to describe myself as so-and-so’s “daddy” instead of just using my legal name. Hi, this is daddy. I left my sunglasses there by mistake, can you find them please? They thought they found them but wanted to confirm the brand with me, but I never knew what brand they were so I responded, “I don’t know. They are brown.” If I am any indication, they probably think our daughter is going to be a genius.

A homework folder is not the only folder our daughter has at school. She also has a daily folder with a paper outlining what they did that day, what they ate for lunch, how many minutes she didn’t nap, and any future events to be aware of. On the bottom it may say, “Don’t forget—Friday is crazy hat day!” I always forget. My wife drops her off on Fridays, so I usually get a text while I’m at work that reads, “Why didn’t you tell me it was crazy hat day? So embarrassing, ugh!” Last month I managed to remember at the last possible second that it was silly sock day, and our daughter received a medal of participation. It was her first. She has been there three years.

Also contained in that folder are any projects she completed that day. Obviously, they are the cutest things ever and I love looking at them and imagining her sitting there and working on it … for 12 seconds before she becomes distracted and the teacher finishes it out of frustration. But let me just say, there are a lot of projects. A lot.

I try to take as many as I can to work. As I write this I’m sitting next to a purple butterfly, a turtle on a doily, a small paper plate that is a lion’s face with noodles, a turkey (?), and a few other things which are unidentifiable but that have eyes. I love them; they get me through the day.

But again, there are a lot of them. We cannot keep up, and she’s not even in real school yet. They are also getting more complicated and awkward. Last week she made a cylindrical rocket ship with construction paper dangling from the end, and while I was carrying it to the car I was firmly told not to “smush it.” By the time we got home, she had forgotten all about it.

I’m not sure of the protocol here, but we’ve settled on slyly disposing of some of them—after the required three days of course; we’re not monsters—while also featuring some of the more manageable ones on a board we set up in the kitchen. Also on that board are reminders for me, like “Get her homework,” and “Leave your sunglasses in the car.” I guess you could say it is a board that represents current and future genius.

Note: This column appears in the 8/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/24 issue of the Peoria Times.