There are a lot of things about being a parent nobody talks about. When I think back on what I knew about parenting and pregnancy in my 20’s, all I knew was that pregnancy meant I would have a cute round belly and that parenting teenagers was challenging.
Nobody told me that some pregnant women have cute round bellies while most women have different shaped bellies, many of which are not cute. Nobody told me I would be one of them.
For some reason women keep the reality of birth a secret. Maybe we’re afraid if women knew what would happen the human race would cease to exist. I also think that in many cases birth, whether natural, drugged up, or by being sliced open with a jagged knife, is so horrifying that women who survive it kind of want other women to be surprised by it too! Misery loves company is not just a saying. And what happens after the kid comes out? Nobody talks about that either. It’s better to let on that new mothers wear white pants and adore their newborn 24/7.
The one thing that does get discussed in one way or another is how embarrassing being a parent can be. Nobody believes it until they’ve been there. Maybe that’s the real reason why we still insist that pregnancy, childbirth, and the first two months postpartum are beautiful things where birds sing sweetly. If we told the truth who would believe us?
Ah, parental embarrassment. That is a bitter drink. I’m not talking about how Reese Witherspoon finally caved and bought her wailing child a cookie because people were staring. I’m talking about real embarrassment. Although Reese may have wanted to die of embarrassment because her child was a real child and cried in public. Who knows. I’m not Reese Witherspoon.
I already had to hold my head high while flipping through sloppy leftover clothing in front of so many curious eyes. For all I know those lost items were lost because kids were so embarrassed their parents forced them to wear it out of the house.
“Where’s the pretty sweater Aunt Ida made you?”
“Oh no. I must have lost it. Darn it.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough. As if I didn’t already take one for the team. This afternoon surpassed it.
I went to school crossing my fingers that Gavin found the jacket. He came out and with twinkling stars in my hopeful eyes I warmly asked Gavin if he got the jacket. No. Did you talk to your teacher? Yes. What did she say? I don’t know. What do you mean you don’t know? I didn’t hear her. How did you not hear her? I don’t know.
Determined not to have to resort to buying a new jacket, I suggested we talk to the office staff. I marched my brood to the office. Parker held the door for me while I pushed Gwen’s stroller into the tiny receiving area of the office. The secretary was obviously multitasking. It’s the end of the day. Everyone wants her attention. She makes eye contact with me.
“Um . . . Gavin left his jacket in the music room on Friday. I don’t know when the music teacher is here. I looked in the Lost and Found this morning and didn’t see it.”
“Just a minute. Let me look up the classroom.”
She performs 20 more tasks at once. I patiently wait while Parker crawls through my legs and Gavin stands as much in the way as humanly possible. Gwen’s munching on pretzels was fine. What was embarrassing about her is the fact that she styled her hair with oranges at lunch today.
Notice the pieces of orange stuck in her bangs and ponytails. And her pinkie finger so delicately held out. Gwen is a precious flower. So glad I put a bib on her. I wouldn’t want her to get messy.
The secretary looks for the right key but can’t find it. So she casually asks the other secretary, and I quote, “This mom thinks a jacket got left in the music room. Can I borrow your keys?”
This mom. Thinks. Really?
She turns to me and says, “I’ll meet you over there.” I agree and ask my boys to open the door for me again so I can maneuver the stroller out. Gavin opens the door, walks out and LETS GO! The door swings back and a mom quickly grabs it before it hits Gwen’s legs. Thanks son.
We get outside and I say, “Where’s your music class?” For the next several pain filled minutes (it was probably only about 7 minutes but it feels like an hour), Gavin wanders.
Let me paint the picture for you. California schools are open. There are few hallways if any. Several buildings house the classrooms with doors that open directly outside. Each classroom has a number as well as a letter indicating which building it’s in. I heard the secretary say the classroom’s letter/number combination. I just didn’t realize it was the same building as the office. I assumed my first grader would know where he was going seeing as how it’s the end of May and all.
He would walk fast then pause and look around. He would reach a set of stairs and quickly go down only to look over his shoulder to see me wheeling the stroller somewhere else. I can’t do stairs. Part of me thought that it was only 5 steps at the most. I could take the stroller down that or carry it if I had to. I’m glad I didn’t. Gavin had no idea where he was going. We wandered around like a mouse in a maze looking for the cheese. Walk. Stop. Smell. Change directions. Whine. Repeat.
Heath said that he took the kids to McDonald’s while I was visiting my family. He said he felt like the mother duck with her little ducklings following. He would walk,they would follow. He would stop,they would trip over each other and bump into his legs. Watch this video and imagine Gavin is the mother duck while Parker, Gwen and I are the ducklings.
As the embarrassment increased I thought of inappropriate things to say like where in the . . . world is your class? How do you not know where it is?
He tried to walk back to his own classroom trying to remember how he gets to music. We finally got there. It was one door over from the office door. But since we walked the opposite way we didn’t see that. The door was locked. My patience was rapidly running out. We went next door back into the office.
The secretary looked surprised and confused all at the same time. I apologized saying Gavin couldn’t remember where it was. Way to throw the kid under the bus Mom! She said she grabbed whatever she could find in the room and were any of the jackets mine. Yes I said.
A heavenly spotlight shone on the red jacket, illuminating it in an ethereal way. I grabbed it and stuffed it in the stroller basket thanking the secretary for her help. And we drove home.
The moral of the story? Kids cannot go back into a mother’s body once they have come out. They are short and inexperienced. Patience is a virtue. Blogging keeps me from selling my offspring on eBay. I wouldn’t even consider Craig’s List. I would get shot! And last but not least, time heals all wounds. This story is now funny to me.