“Everyone sit down on your name-tag,” Sophie tells us and our adult dinner-guest. “Shhhh. Raise your hand when you hear the number three. Put your things in your cubbies.” It’s cute to watch her playing a bossy teacher, but actually I think that the circle-time of academic instruction is just one small part of preschool and probably not the most important part.
The most important part, I believe, is who she plays with and how she plays. But I only get glimpses of this.
“Me and Gracie are going to get a plane and fly it up high,” Sophie told me yesterday, while we were driving home from preschool and watching a small prop-plane fly overhead. “Our airplane is going to be too small for grown-ups. It’s just for me and Gracie. No one else will fit. But you can get your own plane, with Daddy, and you can fly beside us.”
Then, later: “I told Gracie and she agreed that both of us is only going to invite the other one over to our house. No one else.” They’re a bit young for such pledges of exclusivity, I think, but I’m not too worried, because just a minute later, Sophie tells me: “I made a new friend today. I don’t know her name but she has a heart on her shirt. Can we invite over the girl with the heart on her shirt? I told her that my carebear can fly. Do you think my carebear can fly? She has wings, see?”
Sophie mentions a few other names, too, though I’m not yet sure who is a character in her imagination and who is real. I’m pretty sure Michael is real, at least, because Sophie told me: “Michael showed me his booty. Michael’s booty looks like Daddy’s booty. Why do boys’ booties look so different?” Apparently Sophie has been learning about male anatomy. I asked one of her teachers, who told me that Michael is a younger student who has just learned to use the toilet by himself, but has not yet learned to pull up his pants, so he tends to walk around with his pants around his ankles. This explains why Sophie lectured her stuffed-dog this morning: “No one wants to see that. That’s private. Put that away. It’s just for you.”
That’s what she’s learning in preschool.