Bethany Thies, a writer and the proud mother to four young Vikings, is the author of the parenting blog, Bad Parenting Moments, where this piece first appeared, and a contributor to the mom-blogger anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. She can often be found searching for socks, keys, discount non-perishables, and a bathroom lock her children cannot pick.
Originally published in The Commons issue #205 (Wednesday, May 29, 2013).
After a month of packet upon packet of never-ending paperwork, imagine my surprise when I received a notice of official kindergarten registration and not my acceptance to the CIA.
The meeting was to take place at 10:30 a.m. Well-played, school. It is the perfect time between third snack and lunch, providing the stay-at-home parent enough time to possibly shower, clean the chocolate-granola-bar residue off the children’s faces, and to show up only five minutes late instead of our usual tardiness (ranging from 15 minutes to never-gonna-happen).
My son walked up right before we left with a bag filled with crayons, Post-its, Sharpies, a vintage tin can, and three bags of fruit snacks.
“I’m ready, mama!”
Indeed you are.
One water bottle short of an apocalypse preparedness kit, we headed out the door.
* * *
I should have known taking the younger siblings would not bode well, but I was high on coffee grounds and wishful thinking. The signs were all there. The baby Velcro-ing herself to her own sandal, the out-of-nowhere dump my son had to take as soon as I opened the van door to load them all in, the something-particularly-evil-going-on in the glint of the three-year-old’s eyes.
But I’m a mom, and we don’t have the luxury of paying attention to the universe’s very clear signs that things will go devastatingly wrong. We know they will, and we still load everyone in, because sometimes the prince finds your glass slipper and sometimes your toddler does and then uses it to make a glass kite and then yells at you, as you pick up the pieces of the shattered shoe, because it didn’t fly.
Never having been to the school, I entered the back of the building. You know, the side with all of the locked doors.
It was at this point the three-year-old realized I was completely out of my element. And because she’s incredibly intelligent, she knew her time was now. The school was a stage, and she was about to earn her Academy Award for her documentary film Three: You Thought Two Was Bad?
I walked down the hall with the baby writhing out of my arms in the age-old move, The Backwards C. We entered the room, but the three-year-old kept walking right past the room where everyone gathered and down the hall with her arms swinging as she said, “I won’t go in there! I’ll go in here!” as she pointed to a random classroom full of students.
Meanwhile, my son took full advantage of my Lycra/cotton blend to create a face drape with my skirt as the baby noticed a room full of xylophone mallets and I noticed I was the only parent smart enough to bring siblings.
* * *
There were forms and meetings with school counselors and school nurses and the early education director, who smiled in between reminders to Public Offender No. 1 that she was not to:
• use xylophone mallets as fighting sticks,
• jump off of the stage,
• play drums,
• form a band with other hall-roving kids called Truant Officer,
• ever be allowed back to the school.
Then, a teacher stepped forward, and the light shining from this teacher, who I’ll call Angel Face McSavior-Pants, was so bright as she said, “Do you mind if she plays a game on my iPad?”
When I was done weeping with gratitude, the toddler dropped the mallet and said, “You got Angry Birds?
“How about Doc McStuffins?” Angel Face said.
And then I knew we were safe — all of us — and that Kindergarten registration would continue and that the Fire Alarm now needn’t be cloaked with five pounds of my under-eye concealer cream.
* * *
One crisis averted, the baby took this calm as her cue to start practicing her trust falls off of the music-room stage stairs. And just then, my husband, having received an incredibly vague text — “This is a disaster. You need to be here.” — burst through the already-open door and said, “I’m here! I’m taking them outside to the playground.”
And I can honestly say that I have never, ever been more attracted to this man in my life.
The moral of this story is: If you are going to register your kindergartner for school, it’s best to leave at home any other people who think plastic tea cups are footwear.
We have two more years until this kid’s very own kindergarten registration. Hopefully, time really does heal all wounds.
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