When my oldest child started kindergarten, I panicked. I had his schedule pretty much memorized. I knew what time he would be at lunch, how long it would take, and when he would be outside for recess. So, I would load up my daughter in the stroller, strap a leash on my dog, and casually walk by the school numerous times during recess. I would stop and tie my shoe several times and nonchalantly scan the kids on the monkey bars in search for my son. I once hid behind a bush to try to see him. It was that serious. According to my husband, this is creepy behavior and needed to be stopped before law enforcement became involved. I stand by my normalcy. All moms do it. I think.
I began to worry that I hadn’t prepared him well enough for life. There were things that I forgot to say. I saw it as the end of my parenting, as if I had lost him forever. I wanted to go take him out of class and tell him about sex before some other five-year-old punk kid did. We hadn’t talked about gang violence or what to do in an earthquake or how to prevent forest fires. We hadn’t had enough time. There was never enough time. That first month or so, I was a walking episode of Saved by the Bell. I was Jessie Spano hooked on caffeine pills. “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so … so … scared.”
I decided volunteering as much as possible was the best way to get all up in my kid’s business without being arrested. So, I became a room mom. I would help on field trips, field day, and classroom parties. It was during one of these classroom parties that I realized what the real threat in school was. While helping a little one open his juice, which took 30 seconds, I learned said child’s dad was laid off from his job and had been sitting on the couch (or sometimes the recliner) and watching television all day long. His mom was really annoyed, but his dad was trying to find something to do. Nobody was hiring. I was nodding and smiling on the outside, but on the inside I was freaking out. This six-year-old was quite talkative and I was growing severely uncomfortable. Then it hit me. I had been so concerned with outside threats to my child that I had never stopped to think that my own kid could be the REAL problem.
Kids tell stories. They blurt out lies and truths in the same deep breath. Sometimes, their truths sound like lies and vice versa. It is really just a messy business, those kid stories. They hold back nothing. Earthquake procedures were the least of my concerns compared to what could come out of my son’s mouth.
One day, I picked him up and he told me all about the things they learned for Black History Month. My heart swelled with pride for my son who soaks up knowledge so quickly. He is so smart. Then … this … happened.
Lil Man: I told my class I was African American.
Me: Um … say what, now?
Lil Man: I told them how you and dad told me I was half African American.
Me: No. No, we did not. Nope. We said you are MEXICAN American. Starts with an M. Totally different thing. Not the same. It doesn’t make a difference, really, what race you are. We are called to love everyone the same, but you can’t run around telling people you are something you’re not. Not that we care what race you are or anything. Oh, Lord help me. It just isn’t the truth. We told you that you are Mexican American. Probably could just call you American. You’re half Mexican. Cinco De Mayo is your day, baby.
Lil Man: Ooooohhhhhhh. Okay.
Me: Was your teacher there for this declaration?
Lil Man: Yeah.
Me: Awesome. Now, she thinks we are liars.
The same mouth running happened when my daughter started preschool. My daughter is the class clown. She loves to make people laugh. She also loves to hear herself talk. It is constant. So, it was no surprise to me when she sat down at the lunch table and told all of her classmates and teachers that her dad picks up dog poop. That’s my girl, bringing up poop in the middle of a meal. Later I heard this story:
Lil Mama: I told everyone you sleep a lot.
Me: What?! I do not! Why would you tell them that?
Lil Mama: Because you do. Every morning when I get in your bed, you tell me to be quiet and then you go back to sleep.
Me: Um, that’s because it is five in the morning and only fisherman get up that early. Did you tell them that part? That you wake up at 5 a.m.?! That I am not a fisherman?!
Lil Mama: No. I just told them you sleep all the time.
There is no doubt in my mind that teachers must hear the most ridiculous stories. Some of them probably hold a lot of truths, while others are flat-out lies. Teachers will inevitably form their own opinions about a student’s parental units. Some of this will be based on what comes out of their kid’s mouth. So, I have come up with my own personal plan to combat the lies or misremembered stories my kids reiterate to the world.
A pant suit.
It’s genius, I know. It’s my idea. I should patent it.
Instead of teachers and faculty seeing me in my yoga pants when it is 10 degrees outside, I will be wearing my pant suit. Instead of knotted hair and slept-in makeup, I will rock a ballerina bun and minimal make up. I will own a Bluetooth that will be worn at all times to keep up with my important, respectable clients. My briefcase will be leather. It will hold official documents that require countless hours of research. I will be official. I will look as if I don’t actually sleep all the time. I do stuff. I am a working mom with a briefcase and a pant suit, people.
Not really. I drink coffee and watch The Price is Right.
I’m praying the pant suit works. If not, I will have so much explaining to do for the rest of their school-going lives.
In an attempt to make me feel better, who wants to share some crazy things their kids have said at school? I’ll let you borrow my pant suit.