Sunday, March 11, 2012

School Daze

 It’s my parent helper day at Love Monster’s preschool. They have eight chickens and six free roaming bunnies and a hose in the gigantic sandbox that the kids have free reign to use. This is not going to go well.
 We are starting a new preschool after the last nazi like regime tried to crush Love Monster’s soul (sitting in squares, potty training madness. you might have read that one). I’m not going to lie. When I had to sit through a meeting where I’m sure a  normally very nice woman told us that Love Monster was not allowed to come back, I could barely keep it together. When looking for another school we opted for somewhere that couldn’t be more opposite of that hell hole. When I read in the current school manual that (and I’m paraphrasing), kids are like flowers. They need to bloom. We need to let them be themselves. I was sold. Love Monster needs to be able to be herself! Bring on the hippiness and free love! Sure there is required parent participation, but this will be worth it.
 Now I stand outside the quaint wooden fence that surrounds her classroom and I’m not sure about this. I’m the worst with other parents. They are another species and I’m the impostor. I don’t blend. I don’t get it. Do they not see how under-appreciated they are? They all look so... snowed. 
 Every time I’ve picked up Love Monster up from this new school, she’s either soaking wet, sans clothes and soaking wet or wearing a princess dress with the clothes I dressed her in no where to be found (They’ve lost at least three outfits) and soaking wet. 
 Love Monster looks up at me tugging on my arm chomping at the bit to get inside, “Come on Mama!”
 But she’s loving it here.
 Sigh. Let’s do this.
 We open the gate to what looks like a farm over run by children of the corn.
 My first job is taking the month old chickens out of their incubator and put them in their coup. And they just poop. Whenever and wherever they want maybe especially when my hand is under their ass. 
 Their teacher, who all the children know on a first name basis, but from here on out I will call Miss Lippy, waves me over, “Hi Love Monster’s mom.” I think her voice is infused with THC.  “Can you set up the paints and and paper?”
 I can’t find any of the supplies. Yes, I could ask, but I will not let the other two parent helpers know my short comings. I know shit. I will look through ever freaking cabinet.
 I find everything eventually. Set it up. Yeah!
 “Love Monster’s mom? Horizontal not vertical. We must not waste paper,” Miss Lippy smiles and ambles away. “How about you sit with the blocks?”
 Preschool teacher shaft of the highest magnitude. I plop down at the block table and do nothing.
 I’m trying to concentrate on failing at being the best parent helper ever, but I’m distracted by the task of trying to keep track of Love Monster. I have to make sure she’s being good. Paranoia sets in.
 “Stop that!” I yell in her general direction. I get eyes on her and she’s looking at me like, “what?” She wasn’t doing anything, but she’ll understand. I thought I heard a cry and I have to cover my bases. I am on it. It’s not because of me that she’s out of control. At least I think the other adults present are buying that.
 I get my first customer at the block table, a girl named Gwendolyn though her name tag reads Cassie Jean.
 “She has a different name everyday and makes sure her wardrobe matches the name,” I am informed by a kid wearing a T-Rex hat. 
 “Cassie Jean” is wearing killer cowboy boots and a vest. I normally do not really like other people’s kids, but she is cool as shit. I’m hanging out with her. But she is whisked away to play at the shaving cream table. 
 Yes. You read that correctly.
 I survey the activities: The sandbox where my Love Monster D is. She is by herself with the hose creating a giant moat. Nice. The shaving cream table. Blobs of shaving cream colored with food coloring. Aren’t they worried about kids eating that? My kid isn’t the only one who might eat that right? Hello? Anyone? Moving on. And a flour table. Tins of flour also with food coloring.
 No wonder no one is at my boring block table.
 “Is that a good idea?” I say indicating the flour and shaving cream to Miss Lippy walking by.
 “Our philosophy here is that the kids know what they should be doing. Give them freedom to choose.”
 Oh do they? Because that kid is putting shaving cream in her shoes and making the chickens have beards.
 “I got to go potty,” a boy says to me.
 I look around. Miss Lippy is nowhere to be found. “Sure.” I say.
 The communal bathroom is by far the most interesting place here. Second to maybe Studio 54 circa 1976. There are no stalls just five tiny toilets lined against a wall with a trough sink across from it. Kids from all classrooms are in here. I take potty boy in.
 “Okay. Go for it man,” I say.
 He looks at me then down at his pants. I help him open the fly.
 “All the way down,” he says.
 Oh it’s number two. Sweet.
 And he goes, with me watching like a reluctant prison guard. The whole time I’m mentally prepping for the wipe. Which I force him to do after he pulls his pants up without one. (Gross!) The boy walks out of the bathroom and before I can clear the threshold Miss Lippy thrusts a tub of glue crusted craft supplies in my hands. 
 “Thanks,” she says and breezes out of there.
 I go to the utility sink next to the potties and try to enjoy the silence. The other door opens and in walks a boy from another class. He gives me a curt nod
and proceeds to stand at the toilet closest to me (no one else is in here! Seriously you have to be right next to me?) whips it out and pees.
 “You Love Monster’s mom?” He asks.
 “Yeah,” I say. Everyone here seems to know Love Monster. Hmmmm.
 “How do you like helping out here?” He says. He’s still peeing.
 “Umm, pretty fun,” I say completely uncomfortable.
 “Looks like you’re doing a good job,” He says. Who is this kid?? He’s acting like he’s 40.
 “Thanks,” I say feeling pretty boosted.
 He’s finally done peeing.
 “Can you help me with my pants?” He says suddenly 4 four years old again.
Again with the fucking pants man. And I am so not used to dealing with little boy nakedness. I’m pretty sure I bust his elastic waist to make sure don’t accidentally touch his junk.
 This day has been long. I almost step on a fucking bunny for the eighth time. I’m put in charge of story time and Love Monster freaks out that I’m reading to other kids and they pelt me with cheerios. During snack time the kids are supposed to pour their own water from a pitcher and serve themselves food. Oh lord the control freak in me needs her meds. (“We need to promote independence!” Shut up Lippy.) I do what she says and still get evil looks from the other parent helpers because my table is smeared with broccoli quinoa and it’s one big pond.
 Let’s A.C.T. this bitch shall we.  Oil is to water as Beth is to A. sunlight B. blue cheese. C. preschool.
Well all of the above, but preschool wins it. I don’t care what pee boy said to me. I suck at this.
 And then the bunny gets run over by a bicycle.
 And to top it off I see Love Monster playing alone again. And I get sad. We are the rejects. We are the outsiders. I’m sorry LM. I didn’t mean to pass the loser gene onto you.
 “I like Love Monster. She’s so fun.” A boy with long hair, Nick, says to me without any prompting at all I swear!
 I smile. “She is isn’t she?” I say a bit too excitedly. 
 “She thinks I’m a girl. But I’m still her best friend.” Nick runs off and jumps in the moat Love Monster is currently working on. 
 Okay. I’m alone in the reject column and that is just fine. She has a best friend and doesn’t even get that he has a penis. I am so cool with that.
 The day ends. Chickens are put back in their incubator and the bunnies in their hutches. I grab my soaking wet love monster and strip her out of the Snow White dress. 
 “She is so spirited,”  Miss Lippy says. 
 “Yeah. She’s great,” I say. “I have a lot to learn.”
 Miss Lippy nods like a stoner.
 Love Monster runs naked toward the shaving cream.
 This is the perfect place for her.

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