The truth of the matter is that I felt that, unless your child would be in day care anyway, preschool was not a place to send a child that young. While the other Tribeca moms buzzed around checking out where the best schools were, we ignored the whole thing and went about our business.
Enter Judy Stevens. Judy, an uber-educated artist/hippie, has been running a play group for 30 years out of her Tribeca apartment. Our dear friend Ben, from this video, was enrolled in Judy’s play group for the Fall of ’07, and Ben’s mama kept telling me that, even if I was not sold on preschool for two year olds in general, I would love Judy.
The summer before Ben was set to go to playgroup in the Fall, we had little Liev. A few days later, I received a gentle but very firm phone call from Ben’s mom telling me that one of the six slots in Judy’s group had opened up because one little girl couldn’t come and I was to call right away to make an appointment to meet Judy. Jamie said that I should do it, even if I had reservations about preschool.
I looked down at my newborn son, looked at my (at the time) very very picky daughter and considered. Jamie had been so adamant, as she had never been before with me, and her son was Mira’s best friend. I called. I scheduled. I hiked up Judy’s many stairs with a new big sister and a little guy, two weeks old. Both Mira and I fell in love.
There are a few women that I consider mentors in my life, and Judy has become one of them. She has managed not to get caught up in all the hoopla of New York preschools or a very trendy neighborhood. (If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this film on the subject. Truly insane). She’s a working artist and does not impose things on children but always intuits the best way to let them grow. Best of all, she just. lets them. play.
Mira walked in to Judy’s and immediately started playing with homemade playdough and with the other children. To say that this was rare is a gross understatement. She went on gut instinct with people, knew when adults were trying to pull a fast one on her and would give them the major stink-eye if they were not being themselves. Judy was not one of those people. Mira signed up for the Fall.
So, here we were yesterday, two years later, sending that little guy to Judy’s. Instead of the tears and the upset I had when I let Mira go that first day, with Liev there was sheer joy. I am thrilled for him and the year he has ahead of him.
Mira and I made him a Peter Rabbit, a.k.a. PB and honey with bananas, tucked in a homemade sock monkey napkin and a special card from big sister, added Liev’s favorite snacks, and packed it all in the lunchbox he chose and has been telling anybody who will listen about for two weeks.
When I picked Liev up at the appointed time, a joyful boy greeted me. No tears for him either. Before Liev came to us, I thought that term 1000-watt smile was super cheesy. But there it was, that trademark smile and gleefully, “Mommy, I will go to Judy’s tomorrow.”