Today is Sydney’s first day of kindergarten.
From here on out, Monday thru Friday, she’s going to be spending more awake time with strangers than me, her loving mother. Who gave birth to her. With three hours of pushing.
It doesn’t seem fair.
You know how kids are. You ask them how their day at school was, and they say, “good” or “fine” and you know nothing. And believe me, I know how to ask open-ended questions.
I mean, she could have learned how to make an atomic bomb or how to spell the F word. And the only way I’ll probably know is if the house blows up or she reads the graffiti aloud on the wall in the public restroom the next time we go to the cheap movie theater.
It’s totally unfair.
Her teacher swears that she won’t get lost. We’ve practiced how to ask an adult for help if she does.
I’m not even entirely sure what time the bus will get here. What if the bus driver is drunk? Or really mean? Or is the one who teaches her the F word?
She’s pretty excited about the library. Although she thinks the rocking chair at the front of the carpet area is where she’s going to sit and read aloud to the class. Hopefully she won’t be bummed when she realizes that she needs to sit and listen like all the common folk.
You know, in South Carolina, corporal punishment still exists. I’m going to walk by the principal’s office and see if there is a paddle hanging on the wall. If there is, I wonder if I could drop Dylan off after he’s been naughty at Harris Teeter?
Speaking of Dylan . . . he’s going to be a little lost without her.
I mean, who is going to hit him and shriek, “If you don’t do what I say, I’m not playing with you!”? What’s he going to do with all this freedom to think for himself?
I might be a little lost without her.
What am I going to do with all the time I save from not having to scold her for being so bossy towards her brother? Oh, wait. It’ll be taken up with the need to find my own damn cell phone every time I lose it.
She’s supposed to wear a belt if she’s wearing pants with belt loops. What if she can’t get it unhooked, and so she holds her pee all day and then develops a urinary tract infection? What if her kidney’s fail due to the infection and she has to go on dialysis? She’d be all pitiful sitting in a chair in the dialysis center with all the old folk. They might be the ones to teach her the F word. You know how old people are. They get to age of 70 and feel that they can say whatever the hell they want because they’ve “earned the right to”.
At least she has two kidney’s, unlike her friend Griffin, who only has one. I mean, I think she has two. I’m not sure anyone has actually looked.
I seem to be getting embroiled in some mental drama here. Weird. Not like me at all.
Somehow I’ve made this all about me.
Students are supposed to be at school sometime between 6:50 am and 7:20 am. If your child is later than 7:25 am, then they are officially tardy and must be accompanied by a parent and signed in at the office. It goes in their record. Their permanent record. The same record that, as a school psychologist, I pull out and tsk-tsk over when a student is underachieving and I’m trying to form hypotheses as to why.
We were scheduled to leave our house at 6:55 am. That way, I would have plenty of time to drive to the school, park, take pictures of her in front of the school, escort her to her classroom (permitted only on the first day), exchange pleasantries with her teacher, and say good-bye. You know, prior to 7:25 am. I had orchestrated the entire morning—laid out her clothes, brought her toothbrush downstairs (to eliminate the potential distractions caused by an extraneous trip back upstairs), pre-packed her backpack, etc. Drew and I had chatted about his role vs. my role in getting her ready (he simply had to monitor her eating, as she eats very slowly and needs prompting to actually pick up her spoon and eat. He was only given this task just in case I needed to run back upstairs and finish getting ready for my first day back at work).
Let’s reiterate. He had one job. To prompt her to eat. (Well, technically, he was supposed to prepare her entire breakfast, but he rolled out of bed almost 10 minutes after he said he would, so I prepared it. Yes, that was said in a very snarky tone.)
6:40 am: “Sydney, we’re leaving in about 10 minutes. Finish eating. You still need to brush your teeth and get your hair combed. I’ll be right back after I put on my makeup.” Left Unspoken but Implied: “Drew, please make sure she finishes her food quickly. And feel free to prompt her to brush her teeth.”
6:47 am: I come downstairs just in time to see Drew open the microwave and take out a steaming piece of bacon. “Mom, Daddy is making me bacon!” (she loves bacon, and because I think it’s disgusting, I never prepare it for her. It’s a daddy thing.).
Internal dialogue: Seriously? We were THISCLOSE to being on time. THISCLOSE. Now you’re making her a piece of bacon? Greasy, hot bacon? Seven minutes before we have to leave and she still hasn’t brushed her teeth, combed her hair, or gotten her picture taken? You’re supposed to be helpful. You had one job. One. Please go back to bed until she graduates high school.
External dialogue: “Bacon? Oh, well, that’s pretty neat to get bacon on your first day of school! But I’m not sure we’re going to have time for that on most mornings, okay? So, eat up, we have to get going!” (In an effort not to give him a “you-embody-everything-I-hate-about-men” dirty look, I simply avoid his gaze. This strategy closely resembles that of the cold shoulder, just so you know. I’m not sure he notices, since he’s still rubbing sleep from his eyes. Note: He’s been up for 10 minutes; I’ve been up for 70 minutes).
Sydney indicates the bacon is too hot. I say, “Well, I’ll fix your hair while you wait for it to cool”. I do so. She takes a couple bites of her bacon. It’s now 6:52. No teeth are brushed, no pictures have been taken.
6:57 am: “Okay, just leave the rest. We don’t want to be late for your first day. Brush your teeth”. We both hover over her, and Drew frets that she might get toothpaste on her adorable outfit.
6:59 am: We begin to snap pictures. We are already 4 minutes late. She is already failing kindergarten. I blame Drew for the fact that she will still be living in our basement at the age of 30. Probably with her deadbeat boyfriend, a tattoo artist, whose incarcerated parents had also caused him to fail kindergarten.
6:59 and 30 seconds: Drew notices a big splotch of something on her jumper. He immediately turns her around and starts unzipping it. The same outfit that had been carefully picked out, ironed (Well, that spray that gets out wrinkles was sprayed on it. Whatever.) and set out the night before. I say, “Wait. What are you doing?” He says, “We need to wash it!”. Sydney says, “But I wanted to wear this outfit!”. I say, “Grab a washcloth and the blowdryer.” He gets the washcloth and dabs at it as if it he’s brushing a feather off of a piece of silk. I take it from him and ask him to get the blowdryer again. He begins to protest, but ceases when he sees me rub out the splotch with such force that Sydney is wincing as I press into her abdomen. But she bares it stoically, as she understands that pain is a necessary part of fashion. The blowdryer is turned on and her clothes are soon as good as new. I privately marvel at the fact that he is 34 years old and has never utilized a washcloth and a blowdryer in quite this way before.
7:05 am: Driving toward school. I have to admit, when I imagined this moment I expected to feel a bit tearful. Nostalgic. You know, remembering my baby when she was still a baby and entirely dependent on me. Remembering that she used to have feet so tiny that their length barely covered the length of my index finger. How she used to suck on her pacifier and make a contented noise like, “umphf, umphf, umphf” at the same time.
Instead, I’m cursing Drew, angry that he has ruined my bittersweet moment with his extra-special brand of dawdling and obliviousness. A moment that I have spent 5 years, 2 months, and 8 days preparing for. I don’t feel it’s necessary to count the months of pregnancy, but one could hardly blame me if I did.
7:15 am: Standing in front of school, taking pictures. I see two other mothers I know leaving. They had already taken their pictures, exchanged pleasantries with the teachers, and kissed their offspring good-bye. I would like to linger, but I’m forced to snap a couple of lame pictures and usher her inside the building.
7:20 am: Enter classroom. All the other students have arrived, and their parents are long gone. Their backpacks are in their cubbies, their lunches are put on the special lunchbox shelf, and they’ve used the bathroom and washed their hands. Once again, I’m reminded that she’s already failing kindergarten! I give her a big squeeze and leave, feeling cheated out of my administration of a inspirational pep talk, a lingering hug, and words of reassurance from her teacher.
It’s 10 minutes later, after I text ugly things about my husband to a couple of friends who understand how Drew actually thinks that time exists on a special Drew continuum, when I realize that my anger at Drew has obliterated all temptation to gnash my teeth, beat my chest, and hightail it to the closest plastic surgeon to assist me in looking too young to possibly have a school-age child.
Now, I can’t decide. . . do I thank him for distracting me from my personal angst? Or kick him for cheating me out of savoring, in an appropriately maudlin manner, my firstborn’s journey into the world of education? The same world that I earned a freaking doctorate in?
Well, considering the fact that the cold shoulder continues to be omnipresent in our home, I’m thinking the latter.
He is SO not invited to the morning of Dylan’s first day of kindergarten.