Happy Boy is happy when he’s learning. Even though Mom tells him that it’s summer vacation and they aren’t having preschool, he wants to learn. So she buys him a small workbook. He finishes it, cover to cover, in two hours. She buys a large workbook. He finishes it in two days. Aunt Kissa buys a workbook. He finishes that in two days. Each time he finishes one, he dances around the living room, then asks if he can have another.
Mom says that she wants to be sure that Happy Boy is learning what he needs to know before kindergarten. She finds a preschool—Waterford Upstart—that he can do on the computer and signs him up.
Happy Boy is happy, excited, and nervous about orientation. For two days, he asks Mom if it’s time to go yet. Saturday comes. He asks all morning. Mom says that Dad will be home from work before they go. But he keeps asking. At 1:30, she says that they will leave in two hours. At 2:00, Happy Boy asks if it’s been two hours yet.
Despite his impatience, the time finally comes. Happy Boy is happy that going to orientation means that he gets to spend alone time with Mom. They go to a new place with new people—and new kids. But Happy Boy is too shy to talk to anyone. He is nervous, excited, and happy, but shy, too. The new grown-ups tell him that he will get to play a computer game while Mom listens to a man talk about boring stuff. Mom has been letting Happy Boy play computer games for two hours every day for the past month and he’s excited to play a new one. If the new preschool is going to be like this, Happy Boy knows that he will like it.
Happy Boy wants to start preschool as soon as they get home. Mom says no, he needs to wait until Monday. The next day, he asks if it’s Monday and if they can do preschool. Mom says no. As soon as he wakes up on Monday, he asks if they can do preschool. Mom asks him to wait until after breakfast. He eats breakfast as fast as he can, then impatiently waits while Mom and Dad finish theirs.
The lesson starts by asking Happy Boy to identify the letters of the alphabet. He knows twenty-six out of twenty-six letters. For the next fifteen minutes, he matches letters, listens to stories, and learns new words. When alphabet time is done, a box pops up asking if he wants to continue. Of course he wants to continue! He’s happy to learn numbers now for fifteen minutes, even if it’s easy. He’s disappointed when the box pops up again, but Mom says that he can do some more lessons and he’s happy.
Every morning, Happy Boy can hardly wait to start preschool. Sitting next to him and looking over his shoulder, Sassy Girl thinks that she’s “going to preschool,” too. Happy Boy doesn’t mind, as long as she doesn’t tell him what to do. Sassy Girl is content to just sit and watch.
Preschool always follows the same pattern. It begins with a reading and alphabet lesson for fifteen minutes. Then, Happy Boy chooses to do math and science for another fifteen minutes. After that, Mom lets him decide if he wants more lessons, to play preschool games, or to play PBS or Nick Jr. games.
Every day, Happy Boy sits at the computer, Sassy Girl squirms in a chair next to him, Mom sits behind them both, and Friendly Boy watches in boredom from his highchair. Happy Boy works hard and gets almost every answer right. He hardly notices the time passing.
When he finishes his lessons, Mom says, “Good job!”
Happy Boy says, “I want more lessons!”
Sassy Girl says, “I want Paw Patrol games!”
Friendly Boy bangs his hand on his tray, as if to say, “More snacks!”