I'm a little apprehensive about this afternoon's day care pickup. Overall, Charlie's been doing pretty well there. There is still the occasional concern, like the day he came home having bloodied another kid's nose. His explanation? A tearful "I tackled Henry because I wanted him to stay with me," which is, if you ask me, a little too close to "I broke into her house to show her how much I love her." But with rare exceptions, he enjoys it there. He likes the other children and they like him; he is cooperative within the expected limits of a three-year-old; and he doesn't whale on Henry every time he's feeling a surge of unbridled affection.
No, today's apprehension comes from an entirely different source. It started with a pillow.
Charlie gave up his afternoon nap some time ago. At home he is subject to a mandatory rest period, which usually involves reading books or watching a carefully hoarded episode of Harold and the Purple Crayon, both while stretched out on the sofa with me supine beside him, but he is not required to sleep, or even to try. But at day care, the majority of the other kids still sleep. Having already discovered that daytime sleep is for jerks, and that while all the underage rubes are sleeping, the grownups do cool things like climb ladders and use sharp knives and maybe even both at once, Charlie finds the expectation that he will stay quietly alone on his mat somewhat taxing.
His teacher suggested a pillow might help. I asked Charlie if he would like one, and he agreed enthusiastically, so we went to the local fabric store together. We picked out a travel-size pillow form, and then I guided him towards the printed cotton, telling him that he could choose any fabric he wanted for the pillowcase.
Confronted with bolt after colorful bolt, it took him a long time to decide. I showed him this print and that, none of which appealed. It wasn't until I pulled out a length of fabric printed with dinosaurs that he made his selection. But it wasn't the dinosaurs he wanted. No, no dinosaurs: "They might bite my head off while I rest." It was the bolt immediately next to the dinosaurs. "I like these pirates. These pirates won't bite my head off!"
I should have stopped him. I should have redirected. I should have bought anything but the pirates. But I was so tickled by his taste, and so charmed by his reasoning, that buy it I did, and brought it home, and made my boy a pillowcase.
And I didn't think too much about it until this morning at drop-off, when I looked around at all the other kids and suddenly wondered how they'd feel, sleeping next to a pillowcase full of this:
Or not sleeping, as the case may be.
So either it will all have gone fine, and his teacher will laugh an indulgent laugh — Those weird and wonderful little scamps! — or the irredeemable evil of Charlie's pillow will have unleashed a classwide panic, leaving ten preschoolers spooked and napless and his teacher grimly unamused.
I hope they don't make me walk the plank. Or, God forbid, bite my head off.