One day, while John and I were busy smoking the crack*, we decided that it would be a fantastic idea if we sent our kids to a co-operative school. You know, one that hinges on parent involvement and community-building? And let’s not forget fundraising, committees, and work parties, oh my! And so in that haze of crack, we signed Rowan up, and now, two years later, I still don’t have the hang of it. I mean, I’m better than I was. Way better, in fact, considering that no other parent has had to approach me tentatively this year, asking me if I am doing alright, due to some sort of obvious mental breakdown in the play yard. Yes, better than that.
Oh sweet invisible possibly nonexistent lord, I wish that I was being sarcastic.
The largest commitment that you sign up for with the school that we chose is something called parent helper days. We are (okay, I am) required to be in the classroom 12 times each year. I stay for the entire class, do all the manual labor, cleaning, and general servant-type stuff. And then, of course, I am expected to be one of three mature people in the room. Oh, and I am also supposed to help with the whole kid aspect too. You know, being able to handle situations that need to be handled, knowing when to let the kids “work it out”, tying shoes, pointing out the tissues, etc. But, as I have so cleverly illustrated for you in other posts, children are savages. And thus, I have learned a great lesson. A lesson that is both comforting and a little shitty, since the lesson includes the fact that I really should not be anywhere near small children in great volume. There are so many reasons why. I mean besides the fact that children are evil.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I am serving my own needs and the public’s by not being a preschool teacher:
1. The fashion. Good God! The fashion, it suffers so! Today, I actually wore sneakers. With jeans. While for me this is typically unacceptable, I felt that it was the only choice for me in this instance. What with the snot, mud, and the fact that we are now giving the children pitchers to pour their own milk with. I tried to dress it up with a necklace but it just didn’t work for me.
2. The snot. I’m sorry but there is no child other than my own whose nose I want to wipe. And some kids are just total snotballs. I have the daintiest boys on the freaking planet, which will cause problems later, I’m sure, but for now makes for a very, very, very clean face. Other kids will seriously let the snot slide all the way down to their upper lip. And then—and then—they lick it off. And that is the last thing on earth that I want to watch. First the snot! Then the licking! If you could see the look on my face as I witness this happening . . . well, that sort of leads nicely into . . .
3. I am completely incapable of masking my true feelings. You know how some people will ask you, “What’s one thing you would change about yourself if you could?” well, I have a few, but one of the things I would change is that I wish I wasn’t so fucking transparent. I literally rolled my eyes at a kid today. (Well, he was being ridiculous.) I’m sure the look on my face whenever I see snot pouring out of a kid’s nose is one of, first, shock, then disbelief, moving into horror, and sliding on home into disgust. This is in no way an exaggeration.
5. Girls. Oh my god, the girls.
6. Girls. Are. Insane. I have witnessed things between the girls in this class that I only experienced in High School. And these kids aren’t even 5 years old yet! Unfortunately, I spoke out loud (really, never a good idea) today to the teacher’s assistant about how I felt about the girls. It went something like this:
“Wow. These girls are really aggressive!”
“Oh. Yes, we have some self-assured girls in our class. They have incredible self esteem!”
If a grown woman said a tenth of the things that these girls say to one another ( the things that are classified as self-assurance and -esteem) I can guaran-fucking-tee you that that woman would have absolutely no friends.
Already in place is the hierarchy of popularity, causing immense hurt feelings between the more aware girls. (Some are just happy drawing or playing “cat.”) The most popular girl in the group (and trust me, we all know who that is) already flips her hair, and says things like, “don’t you wish you had a dress as pretty as I do?” while twirling. They have mastered the art, at 4–5 years old, of eye-rolling and huffing, and have left even me feeling excluded.
5. Everything’s so freaking small. So small and cramped that I smashed my ear so hard on a shelf today that I actually said, “Fuck!” out loud. Thankfully I was alone in the room, because it would have been hard to get out of that one. All I did was lean down and then stand up while turning and out of nowhere came the shelf! Stupid tiny room.
6. I’m totally absent minded. So much so that I have already taken home a spoon and lost one glove and one earring. Oh, and I ate almost an entire row of the kids’ crackers while setting up for snack time. That’s not so much absent minded as just weird.
7. If you haven’t noticed by now, I tend to, well, say sort of insane things around the worst type of people, or at the worst times. For example, today when a little girl told me that she got paint on her hand, I told her to spit on it and wipe it off. Now, my kids would have known that I was kidding, because they’ve heard it all before, but this girl actually considered spitting on her hand.
8. I want to kick the ass of any kid that is mean to Rowan. Straight up. And let me tell you, kids are mean to Rowan. We’ve got the, “I hate you!” kid and the “you’re stupid” kid. Today there was the “you’re a liar!” kid and the “you can’t play here!” kid. A couple of months ago, when a boy told Rowan that no dinosaurs were allowed in the area the kid was playing in (and Rowan was, of course, a dinosaur) Rowan went into the classroom, made a sign that said “YES! DINOSAURS ALLOWED!” grabbed a piece of tape, walked out to where the kid was and taped his sign up right next to him.
Truth be told, Rowan usually doesn’t handle any of these moments as well as he handled the “no dinosaurs allowed” moment. He cries pretty hard and takes all of it to heart. It’s awful to watch, and I spend a lot of time biting my lip and letting the teacher handle it. If I handled it, I am afraid that I would be asked to leave the grounds and then be barred from returning. It’s excruciating to see your child spoken to as if they aren’t the most special person on the planet. And if I was a better person, I would probably just shake it off, but as it is, I just file away the name of the nasty kid and what they said to Rowan so that later, if I see them in a dark alley I can . . . I don’t know, pull his hair, or . . . be, like, really mean to him.
So let’s all take a moment, bow our heads, and silently offer up to the sweet invisible possibly non existent lord, our thanks. Thank you, S.I.P.N.E.L, thank you for steering me away from early childhood education and into bodywork, where I get to dim the lights, light a candle, turn on some lilting music in the back ground and just work.
And no one ever, ever, ever licks their snot.
*We don’t actually smoke, and never have smoked the crack. I’m not saying we never will…