Thursday, August 20, 2009

If you're happy and you know it shout "AMEN". Or F YOU. Whatever works.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, that was without a doubt the most intense parent orientation ever. I always feel like a total fraud at these things - something I have heard expressed numerous times in the past few years by other parents who just do not understand how they came to be, well, the grownups in this situation.

It started when i went to pick up my babysitter - who is the daughter of a friend of mine. The very fact that I have friends, who's children can babysit, makes me nervous. And I was not comforted by the fact that when we went to get in my car, she went to get in the backseat. Not in the passenger seat, where someone old enough to be responsible for my children should sit - but the back seat. I think she's old enough to not need a booster seat anymore, but really, WHO KNOWS ANYMORE. So I told her to come get in the front, which she did, reluctantly. (Was it my driving ? Did I smell bad ? WHAT ?!?!?!?) We went back to the house and picked up Sam, and he and I walked over to the school together.

I realized right off the bat that perhaps we were in over our heads, when the NAMETAGS for the PARENTS said "Jesus Loves Me".

Listen, Jesus might love me. Really, who doesn't ? But I don't need the nametag. Or the t-shirt. Or the license plate.

So I eschewed the Jesus sticker for the "Hi My Name Is" sticker, and went to find my seat, trying not to make eye contact in case they realized that there was an honest to goodness HEATHEN in their midst. And of course, despite the basket FULL of nametags, the teachers weren't wearing them - so in my panic I immediately forgot everyone's names and subsequently had no idea who anyone was.

We started off with an art project. We were supposed to trace our hands, and cut the outlines out and then decorate them. Then we were supposed to write a little love note on a paper heart, and the whole thing would be put together for a bulletin board, so that each kid had something in the room from their parents. Sweet, right ? So we got right down to business. I cut out the tracing, and then started to draw. Red fingernails, of course - Lucy's favorite. But then I decided to get real creative and turn those little red nails into FLOWERS - another of Lucy's favorite things. With black dots in the middle to make them look more flower-like and then I leaned back to get a real good look and OH MY GOD I DREW A HAND COVERED IN POPPIES THEY ARE GOING TO THINK I'M AN OPIUM DEALER. No, probably not, but of course, I see red flowers, I think "Afghan drug cartel". That's just how my mind works.

Sami, on the other hand, was getting all DaVinci on his hand, tracing every fucking crease and line and shadow and callous. It was like a damn medical journal illustration by the time he was done - he even used constrasting colors to create depth. Jerkoff.

Then we had to write the note - a responsibility my husband gracefully pawned off on me, knowing I would not argue in front of the other parents. So I sat there and threw out suggestions for sentimental messages we could leave for our youngest child. "How about 'Behave yourself''" suggested Sam. "How about 'I hope you listen to the teachers better then you listen to us?'" "No whining". "Don't forget to wash your hands". The other parents looked at us in dismay - we were clearly off message.

And then it was time for a sing-along "If you're happy and you know it shout Amen" was first up, and I thought that maybe my husband's head would explode. He rubbed my back and had a big grin plastered on his face that said "What the hell have you gotten me into?" Meanwhile all of the other parents were clapping and singing along, oblivious to our palpable discomfort.

Thank god, because I was a little concerned that if they realized how freaked out we were - how far from Jesus we had actually fallen, how lost we were from the flock, that they might try to baptize me by the end of the night.

After an hour-long slideshow going over each page of the school handbook, we were released, and rushed back to make sure that our house was still standing (it was) and the babysitter had not called her parents for backup (she hadn't).

We brought her home (in the front seat again - the horror !) and her father came out to greet me and see how things went, and probably sniff my breath for traces of communion wine or margaritas.

I fucking WISH.

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