Greetings upon returning to my kitchen after dropping both boys off at school one day last week:
Totally expected remains of the day: crumbs of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, a few spoonfuls of Ciobani, crackers left behind by the cheese. The boys are pretty good about bringing dirty dishes to the sink, but our morning rush is short and well, rushed. No sweat.
Except…what is that striped thing?
Pirate sash. Which Ryan selected to bring in for Pattern Day in kindergarten. And then left behind on the counter to stare at me, begging me to bring it to school.
I could be back at school in a minute, just slip it in his locker. It would take just a few minutes. I probably could do it totally undetected.
The urge was crazy, I knew it.
Years ago, I laughed at a parenting talk with Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B-Minus, when she described college kids calling home from the line in the dining hall, asking mom if they like Chicken Cordon Bleu. I found it ridiculous that college professors today receive e-mailed versions of final papers from students with Mom’s edits visible because the “track changes” view had been accidentally left on), and an annoying waste of resources that The Peace Corps had to add additional staff to deal with endless calls from parents that their children stationed in remote locations couldn’t be reached by text, e-mail or cell.
It’s one thing to be a helicopter mom with a toddler, helping them navigate playdate squabbles and packing their preschool bags each day. It’s a different story when your school aged child’s “homework” is staring at you. I couldn’t believe how much I wanted to fix this problem for Ryan.
Of course, I wanted both of us to make a good impression on his teacher. Maybe I could e-mail her to explain? Just imagine.
Dear Mrs. G.,
We were SO ready for Pattern Day. We read your adorable bright orange handout together days ago and knew Ryan had to (1) wear something with a pattern on it and (2) bring a second patterned item in to share. We went through Ryan’s closet: he nixed the plaid button downs and striped polo shirts, but brilliantly thought of making a shirt to wear (his idea!!), using a bleach pen a la our army alphabet shirts (which of course, I washed and dried on Pattern Day Eve). For his patterned item, he settled on a somewhat complicated pattern on his pillowcase.
Fast forward to this morning, Ryan dressed in his newly patterned t-shirt and packed his backpack by himself. I did remind him to grab the pillowcase from upstairs. He reacted as if I suggested he climb the Empire State Building. Instead, he decided to find something patterned in the toy room. He quickly settled on the sash, then ran in the kitchen to eat a little more breakfast. That’s when he forgot his sash.
I thought about bringing it to school, but I want to teach Ryan that his homework is his responsiblity. Just wanted to let you know. I didn’t want you to think I forgot or didn’t read your note about Pattern Day.
Nonsense, I knew it. This might be the first time, but surely not the last I’ll have to overrule my motherly instinct and instead let my baby squirm, let him be a little uncomfortable. Pirate sash left on the counter, where (as expected), it remains a few days later.
How did Ryan fare? Well, he hasn’t been kicked out of kindergarten yet. At pick up on Friday, he brought up the forgotten sash right away. He volunteered that you could either wear something patterned OR bring something patterned; you didn’t have to do both. It was not entirely believable, but I’ll never know. My first taste of MYOB. So much homework and library book days ahead of me…I mean, ahead of them.