The Town Criers, We Ain’t

3 09 2008

Today was the first day of school. The morning routine went off without a hitch. Everyone slept through the night last night, and Squiggles kindly woke me at the very comfortable hour of 5:45 am. A far more pleasant wake-up than the sound of the alarm. We didn’t have to wake Neener and Roo. They got out of bed of their own accord and eagerly did a Yoga Kids DVD, gobbled up Daddy’s gourmet blueberry pancakes, and got all gussied up in their First Day of School Outfits. Squiggles even had the decency to poop just before we left, and the whole Blister family arrived at the school as the entry bell rang.

Yesterday I met with the school “team.” The teacher, the principal, and the school board people who will be deciding whether or not Roo will have an aide. Probably not much of a decision when terms like “flight risk” and “self-injurious behaviour” and “might try to eat anything not nailed down to the table” get bandied about. Not to mention the at least third grade reading level, mad math skillz, cursive handwriting, ridiculously detailed artwork, and unpredictable genius of which Roo and Neener are both capable. The whole experience was such a sharp contrast to what we had experienced last year. Roo’s needs, and I as a parent, were taken seriously by the school administration. The teacher was relaxed and experienced. The classroom was a small, organized, uncluttered space. A day in grade primary at this new school is a thing of structure. Of order. Of beauty. I hope.

So, I faced today with a mixture of excitement and sheer terror. But that excitement and terror quickly turned to guilt and panic as I realized ohmigod, the girls don’t have socks that fit them! And ohmigod we don’t have any good recess snacks to send with them! And ohmigod, I don’t even have any good tupperware to put any good recess snacks in! And did I mention that we don’t have any good recess snacks ! I am a terrible, terrible mother! But then, I moved on to more important thoughts. Like, ohmigood I hope Neener does not start singing Paranoid by Black Sabbath, and talking about how much she loves Ozzy Osbourne at school. Or write down the story she told us at the breakfast table, told from the perspective of a baseball. The one that begins ” I am all curled like a ball, and then Mommy hits me with a bat.” And that Roo does not start talking about the Trailer Park Boys. Or corn poop. Or decide that today is a good day to demonstrate her flight-risk-self-injurious-eat-anything-not-nailed-down-to-the-table behaviour. Yes, I have much more important things to think about than properly fitting socks and well packed tasty recess snacks.

When we arrived at the school, I couldn’t help but notice all the criers. There were two bawling boys at Neener’s table alone. I watched as she offered them kleenex, and heard her say “It’s gonna be ok. School is fun.” But the kids weren’t the only ones crying. There were plenty of sniffling mothers and misty-eyed fathers, many gripping the little notes and packages handed out by the teacher. A little paragraph about the softness of your child’s spirit, drying your tears, and having a cup of tea, accompanied by a little baggie containing a cotton ball, a kleenex and a tea bag. A sweet, sentimental gesture designed to draw tears. Or, possibly to separate the push-over parents from the hard-asses, right from the get go. But the Blister family was not among the criers. Our kids went straight to their seats, and never even scanned the room for us once they found their crayons and colouring pages.

Mr. was a little baffled by all the emotional, weeping parents, which made him feel like a bit of a heel. For a few minutes, he stood impatiently in the hall, thinking maybe that I was lingering in the classroom like a sentimental hyper-protective sap, long after all the other parents left. What he did not realize was that almost all the other parents  – sentimental hyper-protective saps, and otherwise – were actually in the classroom. That this was supposed to be a bit of a long goodbye, and not a drop ‘n dash sort of deal. Or that there was paperwork to be filled out, and that I was actually in the classroom trying to navigate my way through a throng of crying kids and parents to fill out said paperwork, with Squiggles strapped to my chest. All of which made him feel like an even bigger heel when I stepped out into the hall and impatiently waved him into the classroom.

And me? Did I shed a tear? No, absolutely not. What have I got to cry about? My daughters are in the capeable hands of a confident teacher at a school that understands who they are and what they need. My incredibly precious but slightly annoying little big girls will be out of my hair from 9 to 3 o’clock, five days a week. Which is good because I’ve already got a decent month’s worth of freelance work lined up, with more on the way I hope. I’ve got my Mr. home to help feed, change and sing to Squiggles, and we’ll have the much needed time and space to finish unpacking, and start decorating this place with something other than cardboard boxes, laundry and toys. And, I just scored a free cotton ball, kleenex and tea bag from my kids’ teacher!I have no need to cry today. Besides I’m saving my tears up, just in case the next time I go to the school for a meeting with the “team”, there happens to be a child welfare worker there with a few questions. Questions about too small socks, crummy tupperware and boring recess snacks. Or questions about my kids’ exposure to Black Sabbath. And the Trailer Park Boys. Or questions about a profoundly disturbing story written by Neener. Something about me hitting her with a baseball bat. And of course, questions about the fact that none of us even cried on the first day of school.

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6 responses

3 09 2008
mammasaidtome

You got it all wrong! any teacher worth her salt can tell the difference between a kid who has been exposed to all facets of life and those that are pummelled behind the backs of authority.
I spent years watching for cuts and bruises that kids made elaborite stories about right down to being attacked by a reindeer. Primary teachers are born ,they are not made! Yours sounds like a keeper. remember, if you don’t believe everything they say about her, she won’t believe one tenth about what they say about you! been there ,done that!

4 09 2008
Leanne

I’m with you. I was the one doing the ‘back to school’ happy dance today in the school driveway.

Thanks for a great read….and I’m glad you’re not the perfect family the first paragraph had me pictureing you being, that was scary!

5 09 2008
Roxferry

Okay first of all, we sniveling mamas are okay people too:( We may over worry about our 12 and 14….I mean babies but that is just us. Secondly, mothers guilt about clothes and snacks are perfectly fine and normal…right? Lastly, I am sure we all have a handle on the tears and worries. I like to look on the positive side of things and think that I have only 40 to 50 more years or tears and worries left.

5 09 2008
domesticblister

Nanny: That’s all well and good until your kids have mastered using markers to colour perfect bruise replicas on their on their faces, arms, and legs. Yeah, been there, done that, got the greasy looks from people!

Leanne: Thanks for the comment. And I am glad we’re not the perfect family the first paragraph of this post may have had you picturing either. This blog would be pretty damn boring if we were!

Rox: You? A sniveler? Nooooo! Oh well, I still love you, and i agree. 40 to 50 years of tears and worries is a pretty small price to pay.

6 09 2008
Lisa

Okay, I miss your posts. Please post something new. Waiting patiently…

9 09 2008
Teaching Kids Yoga

You had me at Kids yoga video…

But I loved the rest of your post too!

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