J does not yet attend elementary school, but I am on first name basis with his soon-to-be principal. Not because my son is an exemplary student, though he is, as all (or both of my followers if you want to get technical about it) my followers already know.
I had forgotten that J had his kindergarten screening yesterday, and as a consequence, I was unprepared for the screening, and also for the length.
K was in her stroller. The screening was on the second floor. We’ll begin there.
The tantrum began quickly after J went in to be tested. As soon as I saw the clipboard bulging with 800 pages of information about j’s temperament, preschool history, bowel movements, sandwich preference, etc. I knew I was completely fucked.
K was in the stroller doing the lift and twist thing she does to try and pop the restraints. I made some lame comment to the other parents about the length of the clipboard packet. They had all finished with theirs.
I thought toys might keep her occupied. Although I knew there were no toys in my purse. I searched it thoroughly, twice, anyhow because there were people around me, and they were looking at us. Therefore, there is a good possibility that toys could magically appear at the bottom of my purse– if only I looked hard enough.
I went with the keys. It’s a no go. The PTO (aren’t they just wonderful?) have provided bottled water at the table, (which is sagging at the middle with the weight of the clipboards.) I gave her one, knowing It’s not fun unless it’s open.
At this point, she’s screaming, and one of the kindergarten teachers gently asks if I wouldn’t mind walking her around.
I let pandora out of her box.
We park the stroller, and one of the other kindergarten teachers appeared with a complete Mr. Potato Head, and instructions to the faculty lounge. Off we went. K headed immediately to the cement stairs, full speed. I caught up just as she put her arms above her head taking the perfect form for a swan dive. I grabbed her hand and she went immediately to dead weight and screamed.
Mr. Potato head was a bust, of course, although he is no longer complete. Somehow K lost one of his tongues. I don’t know how, and at that point, I did not care.
Maybe she’s hungry.
It’s a good idea, said I, to go get the snacks out of the car.
I took my screaming child, in a half walk, half drag, half carry, to the car for the snacks. At least we were outside, and can’t bother anyone.
We sat, calming down, in front of the double doors, while a hundred thousand people filed past us, going into the school. Each one asked us:
“Do you need to be buzzed in?”
People holding the door for other people who have each asked, every person in whole groups of people asked, each person felt the need to ask the lady with the screaming child if they would like to be buzzed in. No thanks. I’m good.
As it turns out, there was a class going on next to the doors where we were trying to calm down, and the teacher came out to ask us to stick a cork in it.
“Do you need to be buzzed in?” She asked.
Yes. Yes, I suppose I do.
We hung in the lobby. There are butterfly pictures there. She calms, finally, so we went back upstairs to see if I could claim my other child and slink away peacefully.
A bell rings. It’s lunchtime. Every child in the building filed past us. K freaked.
We were fenced in by children. We fought our way upstairs. I figured she must be thirsty after all that, so I opened the water. I gave her some, but she wrestled it away, (She’s surprisingly strong for an 18-month-old) and created her own little pool on the floor.
My popularity skyrocketed.
I needed paper towels.
As there were people staring, I assume they have magically appeared in my purse.
They had not. I search the area, a couple of open rooms… All I found was one partially used napkin in one room. Beggars can’t be choosers.
I did my best, but it’s wasn’t much. I tossed the partially used napkin on top of the entire bottle of spilled water.
One of the other teachers arrives to inform us that the principal has asked that we please retire to the lobby.
I brought my screaming child back to the lobby. I put her down. She immediately lays down on her face and is deadweight. The principal has arrived, I can only assume, to follow us around.
I can see his smile is stamped on his face. I am soaked with rain, sweat and Poland spring. K is licking the floor.
I tried to convey through my body language what a silly misunderstanding this must be.
A total misunderstanding.
After several attempts at calming the child, (failed) and babbling (on my part), he suggests that perhaps J is done with his screening. (Please Jesus, I’ll never ask for anything ever again.) and up we go again. The principal goes to see one of the kindergarten teachers. They both look in my direction. K is doing the backstroke in the pool she had made for herself earlier.
I try to look dignified.
The teacher produces J and comes over to tell me nothing much. We are released. My shoes squish as we leave the building. At this point, perhaps a move is in order.