Over the summer I got to take my three year old son to visit the pre-school he would be attending in the fall. He was very excited that he finally was going to go to school, just like his two older brothers. The hardest part about taking him for a visit was convincing him that school didn’t start for another month and a half. Instead of picking that battle, I stayed silent on the subject and moved on to other topics. When we arrived at his school he was ready to go and for one of the rare times he took my hand and pulled me along behind him.
After meeting his teachers we spent about two hours in the classroom watching and participating in the daily routine. For a little guy who normally never stops talking, he drew up against me and stayed very quiet most of the time. Knowing that I am introverted, I tried to participate as much as possible and get him to engage his future classmates and teachers. When the class, and my son, went outside to play on the playground I sat down with the teacher and went over the details of drop off, pick up, and daily routine. Having two sons that went to this pre-school before I had very little questions and headed out to see my son playing. He had taken to making new friends and was extremely happy. I walked over and let him know it was time for us to go, and to give him incentive to leave I told him we would be going out to lunch, just him and I. He waved goodbye and told everyone he would be back tomorrow, I didn’t argue.
The whole way to the restaurant he chattered about all the things he would do in school when he went back. We went inside and order our food, which for him was the typical chicken nuggets. He helped me get our drinks and we found a nice quiet place to sit and chat. When you have little ones they tend to forget they have food in front of them when they have something to say. I gently would remind him to eat his lunch, he would take a nibble or two and then launch back into his stories. Seeing he needed a nudge to eat I reached across the table attempting to take one of his nuggets. To my surprise he let out a loud “Hey” and gave me a dirty look, to which I responded by pulling my hand back.
This nudge only lasted a short while so again I reached for his nuggets to which he let out another audible warning. Seeing my hand did not stop he reached out and pulled his lunch closer to himself, to which I pulled my hand back again. Only a few moments passed and he was off again in his stories so I reached a third time for his prized chicken nuggets. This time he sounded the alarm, drew the food in closer and tried to swat my hand. As I pulled my hand back from danger I began to laugh really hard because the look on his face and his progression of reactions struck me familiar.
I decided to try one last time and this time I was determined to retrieve one of the nuggets unless he put it in his mouth and took a bite. I moved quickly this time testing his response time, and he responded quicker than I expected. He smacked my hand, turned towards the window with the nuggets against his chest, let out a “Hey”, and then took a bite out of not just one but two of his nuggets. I played the defeated foe by giving a mildly pained “ouch” and then pretended to whimper a bit. “Daddy those are my chicky nuggies” he exclaimed “you can’t have them”. He and I laughed and finished our lunches without further incident.
Driving home he thanked me for being his daddy and taking him to school. I thanked him for letting me go to his school and take him out to lunch. After dropping him off my thoughts returned to the little exercise I had conducted with him during lunch. My sons instinct was to layer “security” around his food when I attempted to snatch it from him. Defense in depth in not a hard concept, you simply layer security preventing yourself from a single point of failure. If my three year old understands I know the rest of us can get it. Having kids always makes me look at things in new ways.