Thursday, December 15th 2022
First blog post about family in a loooong time. But, to quote my favorite quote;
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~Arthur Ashe
So, yesterday afternoon my -now 11 year old child in 6th grade- informed me that “There’s kind of this thing happening at school in the morning and you can come.”
What!?! Alarms go off in my head.
First of all; my child is talking to me. Frankly that is rare these days.
Secondly; there is a thing at school *tomorrow* and I’m just finding out about it.
Thirdly; holy crap and praise be to allah I happen to be FREE tomorrow morning!
Fast forward to the kitchen this morning and my child is giving me the usual prickly directives for the morning preparation; honestly one of the only times she talks to me these days. I am instructed to NOT call her any pet names in front of her friends at school, and to NOT wear that stupid hat with the ears on it that I wore last time chaperoning the field trip. OK!?!?
Once at school I’m instructed to wait in the car for “Ten-ish minutes.” I get in my one phone call to Baby-Daddy Hubsand from this hostage situation long enough for him to mock me before the child re-appears and summons me to follow her into the school.
I am suddenly in a *school* of fish-like students and other presumably clueless parents filing up the staircase and through the hallways. A quick stop at the locker and into a classroom we go.
I say to my child, “Thank you for inviting me to this today.”
And get this; she *looks* at me, SMILES (warmly!) and says, “You’re welcome.”
PRICE OF ADMISSION RIGHT THERE PEOPLE!
Now we are looking at work. An online math presentation. Then a notebook full of observations about volcanoes and such.
Here’s where my story takes a turn. Next to us is a child displaying strange behavior; whacking their notebook against their forehead. I didn’t know if we had a developmental situation or what, until I asked if her grownups were not here. She broke down in tears and nodded yes, and I broke down in tears too. And I tell you this child is so resilient that when I ask if she will show me her notebook, she DOES. And happily! And just like that I now have TWO kids -who praise allah again just happen to be in all the same classes- happily navigating me through the paces. I am so proud of ClaraJane for being willing to share her mom for this morning. The impact of seeing a child whose parent did not show up is practically unbearable, especially knowing that it is just random-ass luck and the grace of god or whatever that I do not also happen to be that absent parent this morning.
ClaraJane’s story in English Language Arts is so descriptive and riveting it is almost haunting. My lord that child can W R I T E. IMHO! (Too bad she purportedly hates to do so?) And the story from my “second” child this morning showed such beautiful insight into her cultural position in the school and her robust self-awareness, resilience, sweetness and generosity of spirit.
I was fighting back tears all morning people.
I get glimpses of some of the super star staff members I know, each of whom deserve gift cards for massages and fancy dinners and wine for the holidays. And I will be lucky to even write them an email of thanks.
Finally, into the cafeteria we flow. The kids are beside themselves with the scandal of donuts and cupcakes and other sundries. A sweet friend of my kid says goodbye to me. I lean in for a hug to say goodbye and he recoils. “No,” he says, “It’s just that you’re LEAVING now.” LOL He is kicking me out!
Daughter now breaks the rules and drags me to GYM with her. I seem to be the only parent left in the building. I don’t know why. I really don’t know anything. She joins some friends in an effort to loosen a broken ceiling tile with a ball. Not willing to bear witness, I take this as my cue to leave with one final admonition; “You break it, you buy it!”
A couple more connections with staff members and I am out. Only to find myself outside in a circle with three other moms lamenting how underwhelmed they are by the absence of academic rigor in the school. They ask me what I think I and I hide behind some Montessori theory, remind us all that we’re still coming off the devastating impacts the pandemic has had on our kids’ functioning, reference the overwhelming mental health crisis that still rages on the frontlines of our Children’s Hospitals, and inquire about the social-emotional wellbeing of their kids.
It’s possible I did not come across as a sanctimonious anti-intellectual, as they shared appreciation for my perspective -and I theirs- before I retreated home and wrote this post.
That was absolutely harrowing.
Now I coil myself around my curiosity as to Gee. What’s. Next. !?
For starters, Imma publish this post without much editing before I start fucking it up with perfectionism.
There I did it!