Recently I got to accompany my 5-year-old on a field trip with his PreK class to an aquarium about an hour away. My son, who is always hesitant to try new things, did NOT want to go. In his mind, when you go to school, you STAY at school, and he was freaked out about getting on a big bus and being out of the building the entire school day. To help ease his fears, I signed up to go with the class.
After a few tears at departure time, he did great, and despite the fact that mass quantities of preschoolers aren’t my jam (preschool teachers are the REAL HEROES), we had a fantastic day.
My son and I were paired up with another boy in his class, his “buddy” for the day, whom I’ll call Jason. Jason was a typical energetic 5-year-old boy, but he was really sweet and mostly good about staying with my son and me.
After we’d been there  minutes or so, Jason really seemed to take a shine to me. He would eagerly run over to take my hand when it was time to move on to a new part of the aquarium, and he soon began wrapping my arm around his neck and forcing me to pull him closer. After a little while longer, he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said sincerely, “You’re my best friend.”
“Aww, thank you, Jason,” I said. “I’m so glad we got to be friends today.”
Now let me stop here and say I’m not that great. I’m just a regular old mom who prefers my kids to anyone else’s. Normally, I wouldn’t even volunteer to go on a field trip, because, well…like I said, not my jam. But for some reason, Jason liked me a lot. In fact, throughout the day he was much more affectionate with me than my own son was.
Soon he also told me, “I love you.”
“I love you too, Jason,” I said. And I meant it. He was so sweet and lovable, and he was a joy to chaperone that day.
After the field trip, we stood waiting for our big old bus to pull up to our pickup point, but it was stuck in traffic, and we had to wait in the cold for a few minutes longer. Jason snuggled close to me for warmth as we stood holding hands. I leaned over to another parent and said quietly so he couldn’t hear, “Jason is so sweet. I never knew him before today. He keeps hugging me and saying he loves me.”
“Oh yeah, he IS really sweet,” she said.
And then she paused a beat, looked at me meaningfully, and said in a low voice, “He doesn’t have a mom.”