Thursday, January 24, 2008

Off on the right foot... unless you mean the one in my mouth?

Your child's school's secretary is probably someone with whom you want to have a pleasant acquaintanceship. My girls' school is K-8 and the secretary isn't retiring any time soon, so this is my first of potentially 11 years of interacting with her from time to time for various reasons. She'll know where to find people, how to get things done, how to bypass or shortcut hassles... and, maybe, if I need particular help sometime, she'll be more inclined to lend a hand if she knows me to be a courteous, helpful, responsible person whose children are neither spoiled brats nor thugs in training. Which, let's stipulate, I am.

So imagine my horror on our first meeting, when before "can I help you," she says "your zipper's open." And of course I don't hear her, so she has to repeat, "THE ZIPPER. ON YOUR SHORTS. IS OPEN." Ah. Right. Thanks.

Fast forward to early December... I'm wearing jeans now, fly checked and double-checked before I enter the building... and it's time for parent-teacher conferences. I go into the school and hear a horrible screeching, loud, like some kind of machine, maybe resurfacing or waxing something. I figure the office folks must be eager to have that done with. Coming into the office, relieved to close the door on the racket, I say, "Wow, what on God's green earth is making that noise?" Secretary says, "that noise is the children practicing for their winter concert."

Ah. Right. Too late, I recognize the sound of recorders, lots of 'em, played all at once by third and fourth graders. (Note to self: discreet earplugs required when children are at winter concert-performing age.)

Until last Friday, there was still hope she might not recognize me -- she sees a lot of mothers after all, and some of them have to be goofier than I, right? RIGHT? -- or at least that the Bean would escape being associated with me except on paper, and not have to go through the next nine years in school office lore as "good kid, smart, but her mother's kind of a dingbat."

Last Friday, though. It was pouring rain when we got up. Everyone had a hard time waking; the Bean even sat in my lap and said "Mommy, I can't stop sleeping!" Me too, Bean. Peanut wouldn't even get out of bed; I dressed her horizontal. Eventually I got them going, dressed, brushed, fed. Promised a movie and some popcorn for the afternoon. Some mornings are just hard like this, I said, even when we go to bed on time. It's still pouring rain and frigid outside, so we take the car to the bus stop. No bus. Did we miss it by a minute? Nobody waiting at the bus stop before ours, just visible up the street. Dang, we must've missed it. Pull out and follow the bus route... no bus, nobody waiting at bus stops... hm. Probably he's already at the other end of the neighborhood. Is my clock wrong? Whatever. We'll just drive to school.

Which we do. Because Bean is expected to arrive on the bus, I have to escort her in myself if I drive her. It is still pouring rain and frigid. The Peanut asks to wait in the car. OK, I can see the car from the office... I have to sign the Bean in at the office, I think, but I'm not sure because we've never missed the bus before... Peanut can wait. Bean and I hood up, grab her frog backpack, hold hands, dash into school. Into the office. Where I cheerfully announce to the secretary, "Good morning! We must've missed our bus by a minute -- do I need to sign Bean in? I've not done this before." She replies slowly. "There is no school today. That's why there are no buses, and no cars in the parking lot."

Ah. Right. That would explain it. That would also explain the odd notation I noticed in my calendar later.

Good kid, smart. But her mother's kind of a dingbat.


  1. Maybe you should switch schools and start over....

  2. Hahahaha! Don't worry, you aren't the only one. My husband is the PRINCIPAL and I still do dumb forget to pick the kids up on early release day. Or send them without a sack lunch on the day there's no hot lunch and the notice had been sent home 3 times! Or forget to pay their school fees. The office secretaries see lots of dingbat parents!!

  3. OMG! Hahahahaha! I bet she likes you, though - a parent who can admit a recorder concert is really just an oxymoron (or a death sentence, really) has got to earn some points in her book, don't you think?

  4. I think a lot of parents do that on "Monday holidays." My husband went to work and was there an hour before he realized that he was the only one. He came home, still somewhat bewildered. I said "MLKjr Day" and he said "I don't think we get that one off, do we?" "Uh . . . was anyone else at work?" "No." "Then I think you have it off." (He works for a local governmental unit.) DOH!

  5. LOL! That is just too, too, too funny. I bet she loves you! must just be the highlight of her day. But perhaps not in the way you'd planned... :)


  6. This sounds so much like me that I want to take you out for coffee..

    Bing is a teacher and she has always told me that the most important people in the building are NOT the principal or the teachers, but the secretary and the janitor or um...I guess they are called building engineers now.

    I make sure to always bring candy for both of them on a regular basis and stop in the office to say hello frequently and even have written "Mrs. Fox's children are named Mork and Mindy" etc, in my day planner.

    I think it has helped. Of course, it doesn't help that I once slipped on some water in the hall and yelled out, "SHIT! What the HELL is that water doing on the floor??" in front of a kindergarten class.

  7. Funny, funny post. So far our school secretary thinks I'm OK. But it's only a matter of time before she finds out the truth.

  8. Hilarious.

    I love it. Because it makes me feel better about all the ridiculous, stupid things I do.