Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Wanted: My Pre-Kindergarten Sanity

Today I was "that mom." The one you see (and pity) with the loud, whiny kids spilling out of her minivan sidedoors in the Target parking lot. The one who looks like she could just about shoot her brood, one cranky kid at a time.

The unlucky, embarrassed mom with the two obnoxious, screaming toddlers in tow. That was me today. The well put together and prettily made up on the outside but melting on the inside mama hag who crossed the preschool parking lot slow and haphazard as a drunk snail while practically begging her two youngest, you know, Solenne, 2, (Leni) and Kade, 3, to put their best clumsy light-up sandal feet forward and walk across the sun baked blacktop toward the open doors of the preschool.

First they protested in unison, then in volleying tag-team style, demanding to be held at the same time AGAIN! A recurrent theme since Aiden started kindergarten last week. I convinced kicking and screaming Kade to release his white-knuckled clamps from my tensed shoulders by leaving him in the arms of his favorite teaching assistant, Dan, the six-foot-three Buddhist gentle giant with "Why are you looking at my foot?" curiously tattooed across the top of his always flip-flopped right foot. (I felt a little guilty the first time he busted me reading his foot posted question, like a peeping Tom or something. Wouldn't you? Guess I gave him what he was looking for with a tat like that. I like it, though. It's different.)

Though Kade merely attends preschool four short hours twice weekly, eight hours a week total, you'd think I dumped him off at the dentist 40 hours a week with the way he whines and fusses the entire 15-minute ride there.

I hate asking for help (unless in a codependant wife moment ... I ask my husband for help far too much ... or when racking up lots of extra help from my responsible saint of a babysitter, Camille) but broke down and leaned on sweet Lisa, one of the head teachers, to hold also kicking and screaming Solenne while I helped Kade transition (yeah, if you call darting for the exit when he turns his back to me a "transition" ...) to outside play at school.

I did manage to plant a quick peck on Kade's tear-stained chubby cheek before bolting. The teachers advise parents to cut out fire alarm fast if their child is freaking, which grates just about all my maternal instinct nerves. But by the time your second child enrolls in preschool you evolve into more of hard-ass about goodbyes knowing the staff has ten times more patience than you do and could probably handle it ten times better than you could, at least in my case these harried days.

Post-traumatic drop-off, once I reached my thrice dented minivan (all my fault, including a lovely crack-up with a city bus that I blamed on a lost between the seats pacifier, except for the smashed driver's side mirror, perpetrator you know who you are!) I briefly fantasized about smashing not the minivan again but my on the verge of tears face into the dull gray steering wheel over and over again until my head would break loose from its shaky post.

Then I thought of how scary and scarring it would be for Solenne, who seems so lost and forlorn without her newly school-bound brothers, to witness mom lose her shit in such a violent, cartoonish way. Mostly I thought I was crazy for dreaming up any of said fantasy at all.

Instead of ramming my double baby scream overdosed spinning head into oblivion I irrationally ripped out of the parking lot into the direction of Dr. Yun's office. She's the kick-ass (and stunningly beautiful) dermatologist who gave me a hug upon entering the exam room just an hour ago or so. My tension was as obvious to her as my picked-over adult acne. Actually, she hugged me to show Solenne that she wasn't going to harm me. We conspired on the hug deal, to be honest. Leni's petrified of doctors and their exam tables/rooms since her tumble out of an RV.

By the way, I found Dr. Yun's attractive, youthful glowing skin reassuring. Would you trust someone with a pizza face with your delicate, needy skin? Doubtful. How does the good doc look so svelte, so rested, so refreshed with a five-month-old and a two-year-old to tend to between patients, continuing medical education and surgery? Three words: nanny, maid and money.

I've always hated the cramped Child Development Center parking lot because it's been the stage of so many tragic drop-off and pick-up dramas thanks to poor scheduling and lack of consideration for naptime on my part since Aiden began preschool at age 2.5.

What mom loser speeds out of a school parking lot anyway? A real, human, at her wits end mom who incidentally hasn't pounded her lifeline Starbucks yet. Thankfully it was empty at the time. No, not the pumpkin spice latte Starbucks, the parking lot, silly.

I'll have to vent more later. I fear I must now away to the shuddersome preschool parking lot once more. I wonder how much tag-team crying noise my little ones will generate this time. Every day they push my lifelong noise sensitivity into overdrive.

I'll leave you with what a glamorous brunette SUV driving mom said to me as I dragged Solenne and Kade through the parking lot for drop-off this morning: "Girl, I go through that same drama with mine every day. Keep on keeping on." Easier said than done.

Bold-lettered note to scatter-brained self: Don't forget the damn stroller in the driveway next time! Maybe even upgrade to one of your three fancy double strollers to keep foot-dragging Kade in check alongside his partner in crank, Leni.

Seems all in the family, except for Aiden, are having a tough time adjusting to kindergarten.


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