Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mother of the Year -- again...

So last year, I didn't realize that Alison didn't have aftercare her first day of third grade.

About 1:15 or so, the school called to alert me that school had ended 15 minutes ago. I work about 20 minutes away, downtown.

I scrammed out of work, sped like a maniacal demon up College and across Kessler, remembering all times I seethed, feeling embarrassed and neglected as I waited for my own mother to look up from her Harlequin Romance and remember I was at band practice and needed a ride home.

I arrived in record (if not safe) time and found Alison sitting patiently on a bench at school, reading a book and not even remotely mad at me.

Becky Mueller, the fabulous woman who serves as the CKS traffic cop greeted me with a smile and shrugged off my apologies. “It’s always someone. This year it’s you,” she said. I’m certain she didn’t think another thing about it. I, however, relegated myself to the bottom of the Worst Mothers of the Year gob pile.

I apologized 20 times and promised Alison that it would never happen again. I’m sure I took her home and stuffed her full of candy and ice cream trying to make up for it.

This year, I remembered the early dismissal. Not that anyone gave me credit. Lisa almost called me, but silently sent me vibes to remember. Shortly after noon, my boss checked on me at my desk to see why I was still at work. (I'd arranged for afternoon care, thank you very much.)

While summer was great and I didn’t want it to end, I was ready for 4th grade. I was so ready. We’d tried on all her uniforms and cleaned up her backpack. She’d even gotten a hair cut at a real salon where her wild ends were evened out after a year or so of my hacking at her in the kitchen while she squirmed.

I'd bragged to all my friends who were running madly here and there, checking flyers for sales and picking up each item on the classroom list of school supplies. CKS, superior school that it is, has a service that for a price, those tedious items are delivered on Day 1. No muss. No fuss. Just a check.

I was sure I'd written it. So when I picked Ali up on Day 1, I was prepared to hear all about the wonder of 4th grade. Instead, I was greeted with, "Mom. I'm very disappointed in you."

The school supply service wasn't offered for this school year. Yeah, there were no supplies delivered to any CKS desk this year. None. As in, no pencils. No notebooks. No crayons. No nothing.

So yeah. Alison was the only kid who went to school that day with an empty backpack.

I am so stooopid.

We spent Thursday night running here and there picking up the 25 different items on the list of things all fourth graders need. We had to go to three stores to find erasable pens. (erasable pens? WTF is that all about anyway!?) She really wanted a notebook with GIR on it from Invader Zim. So, just like the candy last year, we went to Castlton to find the closest Hot Topics and a folder with GIR on it. I'm not going to tell you how much it cost.

Just like last year, she'd forgiven me for the oversight before I even arrived. She's a good egg like that. As we drove across Hell's Half Acre shopping for supplies, we spent a good amount of time remembering how we’d stuck our noses up at the Back to School section in every store all summer because we knew we were ahead of the game. We wondered how it was we (as in I) had missed the memo of no supplies at the desk thing.

CKS starts almost two weeks after the other local school bells ring. Guess how many school supplies remain in the bins after school has started...

When we finally struggled in the door, laden like pack mules with 17 different bags, we still had homework. She started in as I unpackaged the pencils, erasable pens, index cards (and pink lock box to hold them) markers, crayons, folders, and notebooks. I got her lunch for the next day started. (CKS has no cafeteria and the delivered hot lunch doesn’t start til September, that I’m sure of.)

Her homework was to assemble a "Me bag" -- 5 items of things that told a story of who she is -- and to decorate the outside of the bag. I printed out some things for her, got her paint and a glue stick from last year. We’d strategized in the car and we finalized our ideas for just how to accomplish the mission. She’s out to earn the full 30 points possible – five for each item and another five for her bag design.

Her Me Bag included the following items: a Wii remote, a glob of pink to represent her favorite color, a stick of bubble gum (we were out of gumballs), a kitty Webkinz and a book mark.

God bless her, she worked away, tongue sticking out a little bit as she concentrated on clearly writing her name and gluing down a photo of herself and clip art of her favorite Mario Kart game and the Facebook Happy Pet and Aquarium games.

I checked on her progress as I sorted trash from recyclables from the shopping spree and assembled piles for backpack packing.

She looked up and said, "Mom, you make my heart warm."

"Yeah? What makes you say that?" I ask.

"Well. You’re a good mom. You get my supplies and you make my lunch and you help me with my homework. You make my heart warm."

I love that girl.

Next year, I'm not going to screw up her first day of school.


linda o'helmen said...

oh, cheryl, what a wonderful story!! and you make me feel so much better that i am not alone in the many missteps i've has over the years with school things! And still, it all turns out ok....your darling daughter couldn't be sweeter in her words :)

Cheryl said...

:) I tend to fall back on the idea that a child who's loved can handle a few parental missteps...