I think that the Department of Human Services may be about a block away from my house. Eric is probably filing CINA petitions as I write this. And even if neither of these things is true, the fact remains that I am an awful failure of a mother, or at least Emily’s teacher thinks so.
First, a little background: one day a week Emily goes to three-year-old preschool. Her teacher, Mrs. Sifert, is a woman who is so clearly made to be a preschool teacher that it makes my breath catch at our good fortune to have her for Emily’s first two years of school. That said, I have developed a pathetic need for her to like me. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to hide the fact that I am clearly an impostor mother-want-to-be that has no idea what she is doing when it comes to raising children.
I fret about the clothes I send Emily to school in, vacillating between wanting her to look nice enough that it’s clear that she comes from a home with responsible parents, but not so good that it looks like she lives with tyrant parents that won’t let her make such minor decisions for herself.
I am a room parent, and not just a room parent. I am the head room parent. I was in charge of calling the other mothers to plan the room parties. I spend about $25 every time they send home one of those book orders even though our house is bursting at the seams with books. I even sent her a letter at the beginning of the year, which, if you read between the lines, clearly begs her to like my child and me. But, it turns out that any good I may have done up until this point doesn’t matter.
Last Friday, after waiting patiently all year for the privilege of bringing snack, we were told by another mom that her son was on his second go ‘round. A tiny bit outraged, and a whole lot worried that we had been passed over because all the other families had gotten together to talk about how none of them wanted their children eating anything that came from my house, I nonetheless screwed up my courage and went to ask Mrs. Sifert if there was some sort of misunderstanding.
And what did this woman, on whose judgment all my parenting self-esteem is hung, say? “No, there’s no misunderstanding. She was given a date on which she was responsible for snack, she just didn’t bring it.”
SHE JUST DIDN’T BRING IT? Was she kidding? She thinks that I looked at the notice, balled it up, threw it in the trash, and just thought, “Screw that. I’m not feeding a bunch of Emily’s friends.” She may as well have just kicked me in the stomach.
I tried to tell her that I would never forget to bring snack but she continued to offer excuses that all boiled down to the single point that I had screwed up. And she said it in a kind of casual way that may have meant that it was really not such a big deal either way, that perhaps they have some sort of contingency plan in place so the kids don’t just sit there starving to death and staring with hatred at the kid whose loser parent was too good to bring them basic sustenance, but that I am sure actually meant that this came as no surprise to them. That they has all written me off long ago and that, in fact, the head-room-parent thing was just meant to be ironic, like when they call the biggest guy in the group Tiny.
I knew it!
So what now? Emily had no school this week. But next week I will have to go drop off my child again to spend one day a week with a woman that I am convinced sees me for the thirteen-year-old in thirty-three-year-olds clothing that I am. She knows that deep down I have no idea what I am doing. And next year, when Emily is in four-year-old preschool four days a week, I will have to work even harder to pretend that isn’t true.
Let’s just home DHS makes it here in time.