I got this. I have a kid who has been through two WHOLE grades, so obviously I am no “Newbie.” I even put on heels and straightened my hair, as if I needed the extra confidence. I knew to skip PTA, the half hour where the Principal introduces committee leaders while the white noise of the infants screaming drains out the exciting part, the reading of the school budget. Last year she did mention if the PTA made the school goal, she would personally ride a mechanical bull. I think it could have been cool, but it came over a little awkward. People slowly and quietly clapped like they were catching on, looking around to see if they “should” be clapping, which made for louder clapping, but I think the term “Anxious Clapping” is the perfect way to describe it. I say a Gift Certificate to Juicy Couture or Wolf Camera is a real plan. I would have clapped my ass off to hear that.
As Clyde would say, this is where the story takes a “left turn.”
I suddenly realized I had two kids, not just one, enrolled in school. How did this fact not occur to me? I had two kids who both needed me in two classrooms for an hour. I normally wouldn’t sweat it, but both of them had been so excited, giving me all the details of the projects for me to see, certain moms of their new best friends they wanted me to look for. The problem here is that Kat is part human, part detective. I could meet Kat’s teacher, tell her the situation, grab Kat’s pamphlet, sign stuff, make a quick survey of the room, and jet. That would be easy if Kat didn’t already have a list of questions beforehand, and probably a questionnaire to fill out when I got home.
Baby Bro says she is way past moving into her own apartment.
Lola, on the other hand had a note left for me that said, “Mom, please leave Lola’s jewelry at home.” We dump her bag every morning, just in case. I decided Lola first, for sure.
The blog name for Lola’s teacher is hands down, “Bulldog Betty,” not for being ugly, but for being dead serious.
This woman had me in my seat with her full attention in ten seconds flat. “Lola adores you,” I said, in my sweet voice, which she does, but Lola adores everyone, something I see clearly now. She looked at her watch. “That’s nice. We got ten minutes to be ready.” I explained to her about Kat, even throwing a cute story of Lola telling Kat to raise her hand in the car if she had to ask me questions. She stared at me, not amused, didn’t particularly think I was charming, which seriously?
Charm is all I have, people.
She is a straight shooter, Bulldog Betty. “The power point starts and lasts 45 minutes. You can receive just the paperwork now and leave, or come back and get it, after the presentation, during that last 15 minutes.”
Okay, then. I had 8 minutes. I darted through the wandering parents looking at pictures the kids drew on walls, all early as well, excusing myself for half running them over, my heels hurting the balls of my feet as I got to Kat’s teacher, whose given blog name is without a doubt, “Tour Guide Barbie.” She was a Southern blond, adorable, younger than me, her very first year of teaching. Score. I scribbled a love note to Kat on her desk, talking 90 miles a minute, while she said, “Go on! Get outta here!” I told her we live in North America.
Kat had made me promise not to forget.
It was literally 11 minutes, not 8, to walk into the power point presentation, but the door was shut. I opened it quietly, thankful I knew where Lola’s seat was located. “I have a 2nd grader, too.” I whispered. The mom to the right of me nodded with understanding, the mom to the left of me looked like she might burst into tears. Her first question was easy. “Who in here has a car rider?” I shot my arm up quickly, proud to know the answer.
“Okay, moms and dads. The work these kids do in the first hour and a half is the best part of the day I got. I want you in that car lot no less than 20 minutes early, before doors are open, because it takes them roughly five minutes to put book bags away, give me their folders, and some do take several bathroom breaks.”
I checked my pamphlet. Wait, this was Kindergarten, right? I guess I thought all teachers did what Kat’s Kindergarten teacher Mrs. R did, the sweetest lady on the planet. I think they played blocks, did ABC’s, stuff like that. I should have hugged her more.
She spent a lot of time on how to know if your child is sick. Who fakes the temperature of a five year old?
She noted the differences of the excused and unexcused absences with lists, pointing out shopping, headaches, and vacations do not count. This sounded strange to me. Do people take their kids shopping and write fake excuses? By the end of the power point, I was the one with the headache. The mother next to me looked traumatized. Bulldog Betty said we must have them working on the address, even our county, and I made a teeny joke to the ladies asking, “What county ARE we in?” The two ladies beside me laughed but Bulldog, in her element, said, “Gwinett.” Wait. Did she think I really didn’t know or did she just not think I was funny? She was unreadable, which meant Lola and I both, were screwed.
She used words like “Data Analysis,” and “Finance 101” to explain counting. Yet, I found her harmless, having seen no teacher care for her room with such passion, each table designed for well thought out teaching applications, and It was clear she was an amazing teacher, so I stayed open, reminding myself the work it must take to do the job she does, every single day. That is, until she mentioned parents had homework. I shook my head, and as any good mom and friend would be, I felt terribly for Divorcee. Homework had fallen in his area, Thank God. I came home with the information, watched him process, his eyes darting through all the material, noticing she had tripled the Kindergarten sight words, had “extra” rewarded work, but not forced, which means forced. No parent wants their kid to miss out on the treasure box.
She had the ABC’s of Kindergarten, key phrases for parents, from A-Z, and Divorcee laughed, saying, “Check it out! Your blog has to be called this! He pointed me to the different letters, A for arriving on time and such forth, and by Q, it read, “Quick Goodbyes…leave drier eyes.” Never heard that from a teacher, my heart hurting for the mom with the traumatized scribbled notes. Wow. I thought I had all I could take when I saw a sheet from “Tour Guide Barbie,” for Kat. My stomach dropped. I felt sick just reading it. I shoved it in to Divorcee’s hands, unable to look at him read it. He did, and then again, and was silent, in thought. “Holy Shit,” he said.
Oh no, I thought, my head racing with fearful thoughts until he forced me to read it again, and when I actually realized that she had been sarcastic, like really sarcastic, throughout the whole letter, I held my stomach laughing hysterically. I didn’t know you could do that. I wondered if the other parents got the joke, or if this was a first time teacher thing. She says no less than 90 minutes of homework, that projects will be assigned the night before, sometimes forcing you to spend all night at Walmart, picking out supplies, to finish it for them. The entire curriculum is a sarcastic letter. I loved her on the spot and had this epiphany, that Kat and Lola, had just been assigned for them, the very teacher that will help Lola thrive in being organized, while Kat may have laughter, which after 1000 questions, is a lesson important for her to lighten up, to not take herself so seriously.
As for me?
I will never walk in anywhere like that again, my ultimate lesson always should stay, “The less I know, the more I know.” I was almost eaten alive by Bulldog Betty, completely taken at my own game by “Tour Guide Barbie,” and so I have a new humility that promises, if I make it alive this year with thriving kids, mark your calendars.
I plan on riding a mechanical bull.
Let the Anxious Clapping begin.