Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. First Steps

What do you mean "where is the Legoland post?" Haven't you figured out that things aren't exactly linear around here? More like those Family Circus cartoons where Billy be-bops all over town, climbing trees and whatnot.

Strap on your seat-belts, Readers. This one is bumpy.

So, Super Toddler and Super Baby have a First Steps class on Tuesday mornings. Usually Super Preschooler is, funnily enough, at preschool and does not attend, but today is Election Day and his school is closed. I thought about not going, but what the hey! I mean, I juggle three kids most of the time away, how hard can it be at First Steps? (Spoiler alert: very hard.) Plus, it is my turn to bring snack; not gonna mess that up, for, if these moms are anything like me, it is their first meal of the day.

I show up. On time. Children: coated, hatted, and looking weather appropriate. I have the snack, a non-offensive animal crackers, although I am taking a risk that they aren't organic. Even so, I am confident: things are totally looking good. I walk in and meet the substitute teacher and her daughter. OK. Wasn't expecting that, but OK. She asks me if Super Baby is walking yet. I tell her no, laugh, and make my standard joke about Supers taking their sweet time to do just about anything. She doesn't laugh. Hmmm...not looking so good all of a sudden. Oh, and that is the teacher asking me, by the way. Her daughter turns to Super Preschooler and demands to know how old he is. He tells her and she says, "Oh, I am four too. You are really short, like a baby. Are you sure you are four?" Sigh. Totally lost my early mojo with that one. But Super P. is made of stronger stuff. He laughs at her and says, "Yes, you are very big! Let's go play blocks, my big friend!"

They run off to play blocks and I hand my snack to the substitute teacher. She glances at it and seems to approve, or at least isn't too offended by its non-organicness. Super Toddler sees that the roller coaster toy is out and we lose him for the next hour. Super Baby decides to crawl up the slide and I breathe for a few minutes. This is fine. I can do this.

Except I totally can't. Super Preschooler drops a block on his foot about the same time that the roller coaster bearing Super Toddler plunges into the back of a little girl, and then Super Baby falls off the slide. Not being Multiple Man, I decide that Super Baby needs me first. I dash there, while shouting apologies at the little girl's mom and reprimands at Super Toddler. I holler for Super P. to hop over to me, while I scoop up Super Baby and feel her head for fractures. None. Put her down and focus on Super Preschooler's foot, but he is gone again; running up the slide. Guess he is fine. Super Toddler is gearing up to plow into someone else now, so I tear across the room to halt him mid-flight. He all but pops off the back of the car, so I snatch him and put him in a Cozy Coupe. Since he hasn't figured out how to go forward in them, he only rams the walls when he is those. Super Preschooler has acquired a new friend, a boy, who also seems to delight in racing up the slide and tumbling down the stairs in complete and total abandon of logic. Super Toddler is backing into a corner, and Super Baby is playing a toy piano with her face. Good enough.

Things go well, for a little while. There are a few things though. Super Toddler finds a way back to the roller coaster toy, about 17 times. Super Baby eats multi-colored rice out of the sensory table. Super Preschooler's pottying needs are brought to my attention by the teacher's aide, but we do make it to the bathroom, so I am putting that one in the win column. The mom who doesn't like me, and never has, doesn't seem to appreciate my calling her an "early bird" and admiring her "I voted" sticker; I get a lecture on civic duty for my sins. Substitute's daughter does not want to let the smallness of Super P. go and taunts him with "baby boy! baby boy!" until her mother makes her stop. Of course, the taunts start up again when he decides to play dress-up and steals the dress she wants. I shouldn't be so hard on the substitute teacher, after all, she is busy telling me ways to encourage Super Baby to walk and seems intensely frustrated by my lack of concern about the whole thing. Minor issues, really. A appetizer sampler of the awkward meal ahead. And just like that, it is time to eat.

We all wash hands. Well, Super Toddler decides his shirt needs a wash too, but let's not quibble about details. We settle down for snack, when an air raid siren emerges from the mom who already doesn't like me. "Peanuts! Peanuts! Who brought something with peanuts?!" She is intensely staring at the bag of animal crackers. I sheepishly admit to providing snack, but argue that no animal cracker I know of has peanuts in them. I mean, if they sell Peanut Butter Animals Crackers, I am not aware of it. Which is a good thing because I would buy them out and eat them all while lying on the couch watching Netflix and then where would we be? She shoves the bag in my face and points at this sentence at the bottom of the bag, in tiny lawyer writing, that states that these cookies where made at a factory where peanuts are present. I apologize profusely, but she won't even look at me while she gives her lecture about the safety of our children to the wall above my head. I repeatedly tell her that I am sorry, and she tells me that I should read ingredients and not just feed my children any "junk" I feel like. The teacher frantically rummages through the cabinets and comes up with some Cheerios, but the damage is done. The children want animal crackers, not Cheerios. Especially the plain yellow box Cheerios that the teacher is trying to get us all excited about. The mom who now hates me scoots her daughter, who is screaming for animal crackers, as far away from us as she can, while, loudly, hauling dish upon dish of snacks out of her diaper bag. I have the itty-bitty irreverent thought that her bag must be a portal to her refrigerator, but I am mostly occupied by fending off the hate lasers that are shooting out of her eyes and into my soul. This is when Super Toddler spills his full cup of water onto his animal crackers, lap, and 4 nearby children.

I scoop up some soggy crackers, hand them to Super Baby to rub on my shirt, and head over to the art table to feel sorry for myself. This dad who attends our class sidles up to me and tells me that his wife is about to have their next child and wants to know how I do it. I stare at him. How I do what? Completely and totally ruin my children's friendship value with my stupidity and awkwardness? Tumble through my day with the barest understanding of what I am doing? Consider it a successful day when no one in the house needs to go to the ER? I am near tears, eating wet animal crackers off my shirt, and realizing that I may have let that diaper of Super Baby's go too long, if the damp near my hip is any indication. But I don't want to scare this man, so I dredge something up from deep in my being and tell him that it will all be alright. I tell him that somedays you will wish you had more hands, but if you just give yourself permission to be late most of the time, you will be fine. And happy. Not content or OK or fine, but happy. And delighted in ways that you never knew existed. You will be as tired as you have ever been, but your sleep, when you get it, will be the sleep of those who do a good day's work. You will laugh more, cry more, feel more, and be more than you ever knew you could. You will learn to juggle fire knives while riding an elephant. You will mold and shape the next generation with your wisdom, and they will grow that wisdom within you, even as you change their diapers and break up their fights and wonder if running away from home is still an option. I tell him that I am so happy for him and can't wait to meet his baby. He seems relieved and at peace. And then Super Baby throws up all over his shirt.

That is enough, it really is. And we wish it was the whole story. Super Preschooler insists on sitting on the W square of the alphabet rug during Circle Time, which happens to be where Mom who Hates Awkward Mom is sitting. He is basically in her lap for most of the Wheels on the Bus. Super Baby decides to just lie down in the middle of the Circle Time rug, for reasons unknown, and Super Toddler reverts to old habits and rebels against Circle Time in its entirety, causing an early and abrupt end of class for all of us, a rapid, Fast-and-the-Furious exit from the parking lot, and a huge crying jag for Awkward Mom at the stop light. And then we voted, which is a whole other tale that you'll hear someday, if Awkward Mom stops crying.


  1. Oh, Awkward Mom! Reading your blog makes me wish I had some super powers, so I could fly over there and put the smack-down on these people who are so mean to you!

    Super P's refreshing response to the teacher's horrible daughter has restored my faith in humanity. What a treasure he is!

    First Steps sounds so much like Katie's co-op preschool that I had no trouble imagining your adventure there. Our preschool is also nut-free, but I haven't seen any militant anti-nut nuts so far. That said, I am totally stressing about my first turn to bring snack. Now that I've read your story, I can see my fears are well founded!

    Hang in there! You are still the awesomest mom ever in my book!

    1. Ah, thank you for your wished for smack-down powers! Just that you wish that makes me happy.

      Super P. is like this wise little old man in a tiny little body. I think his soul got all his growth.

      You best believe that I am going to read the heck out of everything I buy now. OK, well, not really. Just the stuff that I have to share with perfect moms. Make sure it is nut-free, and if you really want to wow them, go for the organic. Oh what am I saying? You are Crunchy Mom! You got this.

  2. Finally getting around to reading this one and I have a question: Aren't regular Cheerios made in the same factory as Honey Nut Cheerios? Just say'n you can find offence in almost any product, I'll bet hateful mom would be appalled to learn her organic carrot sticks were likely grown near a non-organic broccoli field!

    1. Good points!!

      Of course, since I am a coward, I am more likely to avoid hateful mom than share this information with her......