Dear parents of preschoolers,
I’ve been dealing with this myself for a while, but I think it’s time to share my concern with the rest of you for your own good, so here it is: I believe my daughter’s preschool is some sort of top-secret, early CIA program that parents are kept in the dark about.
And I don’t believe that I’m the only parent in this situation; I am just the tip of the iceberg.
I also believe that the kids have sworn an oath to secrecy as good citizens protecting our country, and they take this responsibility very, very seriously.
Think about it parents: If you have enrolled your children in preschool full-time, they are in there for at least 5–6 hours a day! But what do you really know about what they are doing, except for seeing their pre-selected weekly pics, a few art projects and hearing about the occasional party to throw us off track?
They are very clever, but I have figured it out. So, to prove I’m neither crazy nor delusional–and neither are you fellow silent sufferers, here are my top reasons why I think my pre-schooler is in some sort of top-secret government CIA program.
1. They Do “Stuff”
I recently asked my 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter about her day at school and here is a synopsis of our conversation.
Me: So what do you do at pre-school today?
Her: We did lots of stuff and then we did more stuff.
Me: Um, OK.
Stuff, stuff and more stuff. It’s just what they do. My daughter, whose vocabulary normally includes words like “actually,” “think,” “happy,” and “love,” is clearly a purist with a preference for using the word “stuff” when it comes to describing her day, coupled with a matter-of-fact expression that further serves to thwart me (her intention I believe).
I even bowed to the assumed wisdom of one (possibly brainwashed) parent with older children, who admonished me that I was not asking specific questions, such as “Did you paint today”?
Dutifully I asked my daughter that, and got a slightly pitying look from her, and a resounding—wait for it—head shake “no.”
2. She’s Sworn to a Code of Silence
It’s as if their school’s theme song is the Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” (and friends of mine born in the 1980s-look it up)!
Whatever I say or do, I’m unable to get any specifics from her about her school experiences. For example, ask me about my day (PLEASE I BEG OF YOU, SOMEONE, ANYONE, ASK ME) and I won’t shut up—you’ll get tons of details. Just ask my husband. Her, not so much, not right away, anyway.
However, an hour after school time is over, it’s her time and I can barely get a word in edgewise. This becomes particularly important when I need to speak to a doctor, take detailed information down over the phone, or make an appointment that requires the person on the other end to actually hear me.
It’s a conspiracy I tell you, and a mini form of mom torture.
3. Photos are Verboten
I receive photos of her from the school each week, but for some reason known only to them, all the photos show her with her eyes cast down or averted from the camera, as if she is hiding something.Very suspect. Because. She. Never. Looks. Directly. Into. The. Camera.Case in point: Here she is last year as a baby recruit working with what I believe are some coding documents.
4. Circle Time is Code for “Bad Behavior Explored”
I have a theory that circle time is when the kids get instructions to test the moral fiber of their parents, determine our reactions, and assess our empathy levels. They do this by exploring scenarios of unacceptable behavior and gauging our responses.
For example, I asked my daughter about circle time yesterday. She paused in her relentless goal of watching as many episodes of “Dora the Explorer” on Demand as she can before going to bed, furrowed her little face and then proceeded to deflect like the true professional she is.
“Somebody ripped the book, the book was ruined,” she told me solemnly reporting this reading-related incident. Another friend told me that her daughter reported a stolen Elmo juice box intrigue.
Undaunted, I tried again yesterday.
Me: What did you do in circle time today?
Her: Bob [name changed to protect the maybe not so innocent] cried.
Me: During circle time? [Thinking to myself: I know this boy and he seems a hardy type.]
Me: Why did he cry?
Her: I think he missed his mommy.
She repeated the last plaintively, head cocked, staring me down, “He missed his mommy!”
Very interesting. She threw in deflection, and added in a heap of mommy guilt for good measure just to throw me further off the track.
Well played daughter. Well played.
5. Are Legos Legit?
Indulge me and ponder the concept of Legos for a moment. They are in every preschool. For what purpose? Why/what do children need to build so badly, and who needs them to build it? Is there a secret Lego-building factory that they are a part of?
Ask yourself that question—I do.
6. I Believe She Has a Double
According to her teachers my daughter is a true gem: polite, helpful, very sociable, with lots of empathy for other kids.
Obviously, she has a double acting on her behalf during the day. How else to explain the tantrum I’ve deemed the “I Want More Goldfish Crackers Caper” when she went batshit crazy for one-and-a-half-hours over her overwhelming need for This. One. Specific. Food.
A demand that she repeated over and over in an endless litany that felt as long as my pregnancy was.
She had clearly honed this skill somewhere and was now testing it on me. It was the kid equivalent of Chinese water torture, or water boarding. Behavior that was designed to make me, um, crackers.
7. Unexplained Stains On Her Clothes
One day it’s an orange stain that confounds me.
“Did you paint with orange today,” I ask her.
“No,” she replies, “I used green.”‘
“Green! I don’t see anything green. Did one of the kids use orange paint?” I ask tentatively.
“No. Mommy. No. Orange. Paint,”she yells back.
“Did you get an orange as a snack?”
And so it goes. Confounding me and making me question my very sanity.
8. Snack Time Syndrome
There is one bright spot for me in all this. My daughter is great at talking about what she ate at snack time. That’s how I’ve figured out the code for it. The code for snack time is “you’ve got to give the grownups something or they’ll break.”
One friend says, “If I ask over and over I can often get a result about snack of the day. But that’s it.”
Hard to believe but although she is out of the house for hours, the only “nugget” of info (or intel) she can provide is about snack time. Usually its to tell me that she didn’t like what I provided.
“No more yogurt mommy.”
“But you used to like yogurt honey.”
“Mommy, mommy. You need to be a good listener. No. More. Yogurt.”
At least she’s sharing info about something, I tell myself.
But what I “get” often adds to the mystery.
9. All Thoughts Dora Aside, They Still Can’t Relinquish Their Backpacks
The backpacks must have top-secret information. My daughter won’t let it leave her body not even when she gets in the car. When we get home, she empties it out first (probably checking that no confidential documents have been stashed where I can get access to them), after which she keeps it within her reach for the rest of the day.
10. They Carry Nuts or Peanut Items as a Weapon
My daughter goes to a nut-free school. Why then every morning do I have to wrest some peanut-containing granola bar, or breakfast bar, or cereal container out of her hands? A fight that does not go easily, until I manage to grab the dangerous item. Why then, oh why, do I see her in the back of the car, with a tiny piece of the food “weapon” still in her hand, or sometimes even secreted away in her mouth. Why is she so determined to hang on to the toxic-to-other-kids morsel?
For what nefarious reasons does she need to protect herself?
And let me leave you with one last thought. Nap Time?
Does your child ever nap at home? No, I didn’t think so. I know mine stopped hers more than eight months ago. So why only in school? And what makes them so agreeable to do it?
You mean to tell me that the child who fights her bedtime routine tooth and nail, simply says okay, and goes right to sleep when told by the teacher? What mind control sessions are occurring during this so-called nap time?
That’s the next conspiracy I plan to uncover. Who’s with me?
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