My 5 year old has been struggling a bit with the transition into Kindergarten.
It isn't that she needs more sleep or a better breakfast or extra love. She is as stubborn as a pig-headed mule hybrid, and is just like me.
When I was introduced into the joy of structured education, I went along with the plan for a few days. And then, when I encountered a teacher who wanted me to do something that I didn't care to do, I decided that it was time to end my Kindergarten career.
I have vivid memories beginning at age three, and some that are spotty but still there from even earlier. I know, you doubt. But fate gave me the ability to remember things, because fate placed me in a family that can be...spacey.
I remember lying in bed one morning when my parents attempted to rouse me from my den of comfort. I politely declined.
They threatened and scolded, but something in me had clicked. I realized that they couldn't make me go.
My poor parents dressed my limp form and brushed my hair. I was then placed in the station wagon and driven to the Montessori Centre on Granny White Pike.
The car door was opened, and I was plunked down onto the sidewalk. I can still see the way my dad's jaw jutted to the side and his hair stuck up a bit as if he had pulled it in frustration.
"Go to class."
"Tiffany, you WILL go to school today. I am your father and I am telling you to get your behind INSIDE THE SCHOOL."
"Mmmm. I don't wanna."
It was at this point that my dad got back in the car and drove off. The teachers who had the bad luck of car duty that morning found me lying prone on the sidewalk, still refusing to move. Somehow (this part of the memory is a bit patchy) they escorted me inside. It might have been a nerve gas found inside some natural herb compound that was growing at the Centre. It sounds like them.
The next thing I remember is sneaking out of class and going to the office. I told the Powerful Office Lady that I was supposed to call my parents to pick me up, as I was sick. Maybe she was engrossed in a romance novel or something, because this was pre-Internet, but she actually let me call. I dialed the number and my mom answered. I told her my story of illness and woe, and waited in the office reading a grungy Highlights magazine.
I remember driving off I-65 onto the Old Hickory Blvd. curly ramp when I informed my mother that I was not now, not ever going back to school. Never.Ever.YouCANNOTMAKEME.
Through my determination/stubborn hellishness, I succeeded in not going back to school that year. Instead, I went home and ate cream of mushroom soup with Saltine crackers on a tray in front of the television. My mom and I watched every Andy Griffith episode (pre-color, as the color ones were Communist) and I read and colored and slept in.
I had to go back the next year, and I cried and pouted and complained. My assigned teacher gave me to another teacher who didn't need to take pills in order to teach me. It all worked out in the end.
But I wasn't easy to teach, and I know that I was often my teachers' least favorite student until I became hideously shy and stopped talking in school altogether.
Why am I recounting this tale?
Sabra is now the stubborn one who refuses to get out of the car. She insists on making me get out of the car in the drop-off line despite the fact that I'm not wearing a bra and still have pajamas on. I have to pull her screaming little body out of the carseat and smile because the Car Helper Ladies are looking at me because we are holding up the line. I tell her to have a great day and PLEASE remember to not spit on kids or roll around on the carpet while the teacher is talking. She wails and moans and drags her backpack behind her like a ball and chain.
We've been trying to reward her in small ways if she has a 'good' (not in trouble) day. She gets to have popcorn after school or choose the nighttime movie or something else that is immediate and yet...free. Today's lunchtime visit from Austin and I was one such reward. I made spaghetti (her favorite) and we showed up for some Special Sabra Time.
I have my head in my hands at this point. It was so bad. It was, in fact, terrible. I'm waiting on call from Sabra to tell me she snuck out of class and is in the office reading a magazine.
It started out fine, just us at the parent table with some food and encouraging smiles that hopefully said 'Hey! School is FUN! You can DO THIS! You will be successful and intelligent and a good citizen all because you went to Kindergarten and learned how to not roll on the carpet like a deranged dog.'
All was well until Austin walked away to ask the Cafeteria ladies if they were peanut and tree nut free so I can stop trying to send the same lunch packaged different ways. (Oh what joy is mine, my kids can now eat in the cafeteria!)
It was at this inopportune moment that Sabra choked magnificently on her spaghetti. It was under control. I mean, kids choke. Austin chokes ALL THE TIME. Have you ever heard of eosinophillic esophagitis? Nobody has. But Austin has it and it means 'whoops I choke whenever I eat, drink or breathe and may at any time fall on the floor and turn blue". I'm ok with the choking thing. You tell them to raise the roof, stop eating, relax and go with the cough. But then if the kid starts to retch, you do what any good parent does: Throw your kid at the passing school nurse and scream for your husband over the noise of 150 Kindergarten students eating pudding. Then you realize that your remaining kid is sitting at a table with spaghetti....unsupervised....in a light blue frock that is begging to be soiled.
You run back and forth between Spaghetti Kid and Retching Kid and yell again at your spouse who is wondering if this is The Day when he needs to take you to the special hospital for people who cannot cope.
Did I mention that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and that illness, crowds that have germs, and vomit are among my biggest issues? It really was amazing that I didn't run from the building.
Lucky for me, I stuck it out and Sabra was just choking on a noodle that went down her windpipe. (So sayeth the school nurse who looked at me like I was yelling and running around.)
We all went back to the table to finish the rest of our peaceful lunch. Sabra spilled a carton of chocolate milk on Austin's pants, Isla dropped popsicle on his shirt, and I couldn't stop my 'I just lived through an obsession made into reality' bouncing of my legs that made it impossible to carry on a conversation with anyone except the Tiny Therapist who sits on my shoulder.
Thankfully, lunch was now over and I walked Sabra back to the line of sticky germy 5 year olds who probably didn't wash their hands after they ate peanut butter sandwiches and would then touch my baby and send her to the hospital. Sabra screamed and yelled and sobbed and held onto my legs. I pried her off, apologized to the teacher for 'helping' by coming in for lunch, and quickly walked away.
I celebrated by dumping yogurt on Austin's arm and getting a Most Reproving Look.
So I sat down to write out my thoughts and hopefully get some clarity. Instead, I was interrupted by my phone reminding me to go have lunch with Moira. Why did I agree to do this twice in one day?! I spilled my can of seltzer water all over the table, winning me Most Reproving Look #2 from spouse AND Hateful Lunch Lady that I swear has to be a physical cover for an evil spirit.
I'm going to just refuse to participate anymore, I think. Just like that first year of Kindergarten that I got out of, I think I'd like to get out of Sabra's year as well.
Don't tell my dad. He'll tell my Tiny Shoulder Therapist and she'll make me be a lunch lady. Lunch ladies scare me and make me bounce. Bouncing leads to more spills, which leads to more Reproving Looks. Reproving looks lead to running from the building, which is how I got here to finish this blog.
This just might be The Day.