Sunday, March 6, 2011

WARNING: Doing The Best I Can!

Last week, I was busted…by the principal while dropping my son off in front of his school…at ...Oh Happy Day.  Although, in my defense, I would like to point out that my infraction was executed for the express purpose of furthering my child’s education….and perhaps, motivated in part, by my ego. 

Here’s the skinny…In order to avoid the shame of Wesley arriving late for his tutoring session, I decided to break the rules. Rather than wasting precious seconds snaking my way through the bowels of the elementary school’s rear hallways, I decided to I let him out at the main entrance. Wesley’s classroom is on the far end of the main building, on the opposite side of the “official” drop off zone.  Besides, once you do arrive at the designated “drop off zone,” more valuable time is wasted as the New Vision Welcome Wagon-ers open the car doors and assault the students with their cheery “good mornings.” Then, the uber-prepared parents take their annoyingly sweet time exiting the zone, politely allowing THE BUSES to cut in front of them.  The entire “official” drop-off would have taken at least five additional minutes. Unacceptable, when you consider the hallowed nature of instructional time, in the context of third grade EOG tests. When you are battling for your right to ascend to fourth grade, each minute of tutoring is akin to those ticking seconds before defibrillation begins on a patient experiencing cardiac arrest.  Oh, yeah…and that particular morning my hair was also dripping wet and I was wallowing in fashion ensemble limbo, i.e., sporting sleepwear. 

With my metaphoric back was against the wall, I made a hasty decision….neigh, a parenting decision….to choosing the educational success of my child (okay, and my dignity) over the directives detailed in the student handbook.  Given that this was not our first early morning rodeo, Wesley has trained well for Operation Emergency Unload (OEU).  Typically, Wes is like a miniature Green Beret on a reconnaissance mission; in one fluid move, my precious child unclasps his seat belt, dons his backpack, and poises his hand on the car door handle.  He can accurately predict the precise moment when it is safe to open the door as the vehicle comes to my infamous rolling stop.  Whatever! Call the damned Department of Social Services, ye who never run late. Jeesh!  “Have a good day, Mom,” he says, and with lightening speed, enters the school.  I glimpse the gray blur of his backpack as the glass door closes, and I am pulling my Bug onto the street headed home to continue getting ready for work….okay, to begin getting ready for work. Whatever.  Mission Accomplished. I don’t usually even tap the brake pedal.  Sweet. The entire assignment takes less than 45 seconds…typically.

However, on this particular day, Mr. Baez, our principal who graduated from VMI, was standing on the steps as the front door closed.  Stunned, it took me a few seconds to realize what was happening…an unanticipated glitch in the exercise. Oops…Giant OOPS! With my window pane retreating into the slot, Mr. Baez enumerated, in detail, the morning drop-off protocol, by rote.  Amazingly, I was speechless. I couldn’t even collect my wits quickly enough to get my Grinch on and think up a lie.  Numb, all I could do was point to my sopping wet head, brandished with headband, and purse my lips indignantly. “My HAIR,” I said, with the “Duh Huh” clearly implied.  He cocked his head sideways, in confusion.  I jump in….“I realize this is not the appropriate drop-off location, but look at me.  My hair is awful.  I have no make up on.  I can’t be seen like this!”  Then, it was his turn to be speechless.  Finally, he said, “you look fine.” 

Pathetically, I am ashamed to admit that for a nano-second I was comforted by his kind words.  But, alas, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view and quickly realized that he has lobbed a compliment, purely out of mercy.  The raw facts were reflected in the side mirror.  Trust me, when you have achieved 44 years of age, there are universal ethical principles which transcend the rules that maintain social order. For example, under no circumstance can you be seen with no make up, much less with your wet hair pulled back from the face! This is not appropriate for family members or loved ones…and certainly not for perky, twenty-something first grade teachers doubling as Morning Greeters! I promptly ended the conversation by apologizing for any action on my part that could have potentially jeopardized student safety.  I subtly refrained from pointing out that I had single-handedly saved the vision of several of his faculty members, and neglected to share my sincere hope that he would be able to stumble back to his office, given that he had most probably suffered a horrible, albeit temporary, optic impairment.

Honestly, I think that once you reach 40, you should automatically be issued a placard by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. It would be hooked onto your rear view mirror for the purpose of avoiding such awkward incidents as the one I described above. This notice would alert people to the erratic traffic movements and parking faux pas indigenous to egotistical forty-somethings who arrive somewhere ill-prepared. Fashioned after the handicap license plate (which, of course, would continue to take precedence and offer the best parking spots), my placard would read F#*k  It! I am Doing the Best I Can and would serve as a warning to the general public during times of bad hair, no make-up and unshaven legs in July. It could also be used for having had no shower, overdue manicures, Spanx-less-ness, wearing navy slingbacks with a black skirt, or upon discovering that an earring has been inadvertently left out of an earlobe. 

Emblazoned with the international symbol of bitchiness and repugnance, a witch silhouette, the F#*k It placard would allow women such amenities as driving while wearing a cucumber, pore-tightening mask, driving while hunched over a fast-food bag, and/or bolting into parking spaces at Target parking in front of waiting vehicles signaling for the same space. It would allow Moms to throw moldy Goldfish crackers out the window while en route to any destination, lay down on the horn in front of the church to summon their offspring from Vacation Bible School, and, of course, allow for dropping off said offspring anywhere in the vicinity of their instructional facility.

But the placard’s perks would not be limited to use in vehicles. In fact, you should be able to grab that sucker off the rear view mirror, and mobilize its power in the office, at various sporting events or at family gatherings. Provided that the placard is clearly displayed, you could feel free to say exactly what was on your mind in a variety of setting.

I was fantasizing about the potential power of the F#*k It endorsement when I picked up Wesley from school that same afternoon.  Heroically, I faced the principal…although if I had not been driving the same Bug, I am not sure he would have recognized me behind my shield Paul Mitchell’s Freeze and Shine Hair Spray and my mask of Cover Girl Cream to Powder Foundation. As it happened, he opened my car door for Wesley and obviously still struggling with some depth perception issues, he smiled and waved in my direction.  Mistakenly I had assumed that Wes was ensconced inside the building during the morning tete-a-tete until he boldly declared, “Mom! You got busted by Mr. Baez! OOOH!”  WTH? Where did proper parental respect go?  After my “rules must be followed, parents are fallible, and Mom made a mistake” diatribe, Wesley says, “Mom, why didn’t you just tell him you were dropping me off for tutoring?  He would have been okay with that.”  Wow, I guess that extra instruction is really starting to show promise…for us both, it seems!    

A. Ballerina

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