I received a love note today from my 3 year old son (hereafter referred to as “A”). It was nothing like the little love notes that my mom used to scribble on my lunch napkin and put in my Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox. It was green, and had a smiley face on it, and almost made me cry.
You see, Thursdays are “Show-and-Share” day at preschool. Every Wednesday night before my kids go to sleep, we go through the ritual of trying to decide what to bring to school for them to share with their classmates. My daughter always brings whatever new and exciting thing she owns – a coloring book, a toy, her new shoes. This week, she chose a rainbow-colored necklace that she received as a birthday gift. And every week, my son predictably chooses one of his trains from his train collection. This week was Percy’s turn.
Last night, as we were talking about what to bring, I asked my son if he wanted to bring something other than his train; you know, to branch out a little.
“No, Mama – I want to bring Percy.”
“But you received so many fun toys for your birthday. Don’t you want to bring one of those?”
“Next time. Tomorrow, I bring Percy.”
“OK,” I responded as I tucked my kids into bed, gave them kisses and took the necklace and green train to put into their school bags.
This morning, we were getting ready for school and A looked at me thoughtfully as if something was on his mind.
“Mama, do you want to play with Percy?”
“Sure. We can play with Percy after school.”
“No, no, no…do you want to play with Percy by yourself?”
“OK, Bubba [his nickname]. I’ll play with Percy later.”
Right as we were about to leave, A madly started to rifle through his schoolbag. Because we were running late, I took the bag from his hands and ushered everyone to the car without paying attention to what he was doing. We rushed to school and went through our dropoff routine, only this time, A was a little antsy. I leaned over to kiss him goodbye and he pulled back momentarily.
“Mama, there’s a s’prise in your pocketbook.” Clearly he wanted me to look in my pocketbook.
“Oh, Buddy. My pocketbook is in the car…but I promise I will look inside.”
He grinned and then puckered up.
What in the heck is this kid up to?
Distracted by the fact that I was running late, I almost forgot to check my pocketbook once I got out to the car, but then I looked down to see it on the floor. I leaned over to grab the bag and opened it to find this:
A had left me Percy and a half eaten cookie. It was the same Percy that I had put into his bag the night before. It was his own version of a love note.
I immediately got out of my car and went back into the school to let him know that I had found his surprise. When I opened the door and he saw me, his eyes lit up and he ran over, knowing exactly why I was there.
“Did you find the s’prise?”
“I found it! But I thought you wanted to bring Percy for Show and Share.”
“That’s OK. I have my truck ‘stead. You play with Percy.”
A’s little “surprise” sat on my desk all day, bringing a smile to my face every time I looked at that goofy grey face on the green train body. In the world of a three year old toddler, I can’t even imagine what a sacrifice it felt like to give up his little green train just so that he could leave Mommy a “s’prise.” He was so proud of himself, and when I picked him up later that day, the first thing he asked me was, “Did you have fun with Percy today?”