Today my son learned a very valuable lesson, while dressed up as a very muscular race car driver and seated on the alphabet rug at pre-school. He learned, through the example of his mother, that if you promise to do something and then decide at the last minute that you don’t want to, someone will pick up your slack and fulfill your responsibilities. This is not a lesson I was trying to teach; but it worked out that way.
I’m not a doting, room-mother, kind of broad. I don’t bake cookies. I won’t harass my friends and family with flyers for a fundraiser and ask them to spend their hard-earned dollars on over-priced, plastic, crap they don’t need; so that the school can buy new computers that my son will likely never get to use. I don’t volunteer to come in for story time and read to the little darlings; not because I don’t like reading, but because I’d hate to be the parent responsible for teaching 15 four year olds the age old expression “Dammit, I said sit your ass on the carpet”. No, that’s not my style. If it’s yours…hey, more power to you.
I’m not a total slouch, though. Often times, if there is a request for supplies or snacks left on the door to the classroom, I will be the first…um, OK…third to sign up. Today, I was guilted into bringing a fresh fruit assortment for a Halloween Extravaganza. I wasn’t quick enough to sign up for the fun stuff like cupcakes or goodie bags, so I volunteered to bring premade fruit salad and apple slices, prepared lovingly by someone else in the produce department at the grocery store. I wrote myself a reminder on a sticky note, sent myself an email and entered the event in my cell phone under “Go get the effing fruit,” so it would ring with the most annoying of dings. The good news is, I remembered. Even though I got stuck with the boring nourishment; I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t going to be the parent accidentally responsible for sending the little girl with all the food allergies to the emergency room. My fruit was purchased ahead of time and with the fore thought to bring in forks to accompany the chunks of watermelon, yay me!
The attendance level was noticeably lacking today, there were at least six less bouncing balls of energy and germs sitting at circle time. My keen sense of observation alerted me to the fact that most of the children missing were wrangled by parents who had volunteered to bring the cupcakes, juice boxes and cookies. Thank god the lovely black woman, with the son who is large enough to eat the rest of the children for a mid-morning snack, held up her end of the bargain and came armed with goodie bags. Geeze, that kid is tall; but he’s a sweet little boy that doesn’t put up with any funny stuff from his shorter counterparts. “It’s a good thing he wanted to be a Transformer, because none of the other costumes were going to fit him,” his mother said to me as we stood around fumbling for things to say to one another waiting for the traditional costume parade to start. We’ve bonded, because our children are vertically gifted and play with each other. It’s more of a safety measure than it is an everlasting friendship. They each have found a kindred spirit who can recover quickly from being laid out on the playground, after receiving a body blow that would send the other kids screaming for Band-Aid’s.
As it got closer to party time, it became clear to me that the only thing these kids would be snacking on was the crappy fruit, brought by yours truly. I am of the opinion that Halloween is not a success unless you have ingested enough sugar to make your eyes roll into the back of your head and your lips spontaneously speak in tongues. This would never do. My son’s teacher looked desperately at the parents standing around taking pictures of their children in costumes; I could tell she was telepathically asking that someone do something about the empty snack table. I wish I wasn’t so good at receiving non-verbal directives…but I am; we all have our cross to bear. “Ms. Patty? What can I do?” I said before I even realized I was offering assistance. “We need cookies, cupcakes, juice boxes or something more than this fruit,” she whispered “The other parents just didn’t make it happen, “ she went on mumbling as she adjusted her bee wings and antennas. “Ok, I’ll be right back” I said, but what I was really thinking was “Damn you! You slackers! How dare you screw with Halloween”.
“Mommy, where are you going?” my nugget asked as he made a parental pit-stop. “I’m going to go get some cupcakes, buddy. I’ll be right back”. “Daddy can bring ‘em!” he chirped happily. Daddy, I didn’t have the heart to tell him, wasn’t coming. My son was still holding out hope that he was going to walk through the door with an armful of cupcakes and a hug. His father blew off the party that he had promised he would attend and I reminded him of every blessed time I had to speak with him for the last month and a half; he didn’t write himself a sticky note or set up an annoying cell phone reminder. I had to distract him from the realization that this was a one parent event and I was not going to let this be the Halloween that was chronicled by all the things that didn’t happen. I needed unhealthy, chemical filled treats and I needed them now!
I bolted out of the classroom on a mission to purchase the sugary goodness the party was missing, it’s a beautiful thing there is a grocery store in the plaza where the school is located. I immediately went to the display of Halloween themed baked goods. I didn’t have time to search for gluten-free, non-peanut, low-carb garbage that tastes like cardboard. I grabbed a cartful of assorted junk and hoped that the little allergic girl had an eppie pen stashed under her witch costume. I waited in the line to pay for the bounty of all things bad for you, “Last minute shopping?” the check-out girl inquired as she scanned my items. I wanted to yell “No, some heartless bastards at my son’s school tried to ruin Halloween. They promised CUPCAKES!!! They were too selfish and lazy to get them and then they didn’t even have the balls to show up and apologize for being assholes!”. I didn’t though. I know how crazy this would make me sound and even though I may not be firing on all cylinders in the metal stability department, I didn’t want to let her know that. “You betcha,” I said, biting my lip.
When I arrived back at school I tried to be inconspicuous, but was unable to get past the sea of short people undetected. They have a sixth sense when it comes to cupcakes, you might as well be chumming the waters with sugar. They circled me screaming “YAAAAY!!!! CUPCAKES!!!! YOU’RE THE BEST LADY EVER!!!”. I have to admit, it felt pretty good to be on the receiving end of their little compliments. I handed the bags to Ms. Patty and left before the sugar rush turned the Minnie Mouse’s, Pumpkins and Spider-men into whirling dervishes. When I returned a few hours later, I was relieved to see that the ambulance was not out front, nor were the paramedics trying to resuscitate the little witch because she had come into contact with a legume. My son and his classmates probably won’t remember their first organized school party and that’s just the way I wanted it. They won’t have the memory of not having cupcakes, juice, cookies or goodie bags because at least two crazy parents decided they should keep their word and make up for those that didn’t.