This week found us where 99% of families with school aged kids are. Yep, doing the Back to School Shuffle. I can’t figure out where the summer went. But it is sadly over although the Texas heat remains. As much as I know I am going to miss my Coconuts, it is time for them to head back to school. How do I know, you ask? I think I received a clue when I walked into our game room last week to see Coconut number 1 trying to clobber her brother with a plastic baseball bat. It appeared to be in response to the fistful of her gorgeous locks that he had grabbed onto and was attempting to pull her to the ground with. All the while he was laughing like a psychopath as she yelled at him that she was “going to tell mom” whilst swinging blindly with her weapon. I am thinking I don’t need any sort of prophetic gift to determine that a little break from each other is going to be a good thing.
The Back to School adventure started with a morning open house for Coconut #2 and his Kindergarten class. This is where kids and parents come see their classrooms and meet their teachers. In other words, bring the entire family, and I mean moms, dads, papas, mee-maws, aunts, uncles, cousins and anyone once or twice removed, to pack our bodies into tiny little classrooms to take a thousand pictures of your kid sitting on a tiny little chair, at a tiny little desk. All the while trying to listen to information and instructions from the teacher as you dodge and weave to keep from photo bombing someone else’s picture of their kid. Don’t worry about the info you are missing because whatever you do retain will be sucked right out of your brain as you walk out the door and into the melee of tuition payments, lunch payments, and the dreaded parent volunteer station.
We made it out the door, though, feeling good because we had successfully managed to: 1. Meet his teacher. 2. Find his desk. and 3. Gotten the necessary photos to avoid looking like the Worst Parents of the Year. We congratulated ourselves in the car as to how smoothly it had all gone. So proud of ourselves for becoming the seasoned, responsible parents that we were! Not once did we stop to consider that we had not brought Coconuts 1 and 2. And that having to deal with one kid at a time does not deserve a self congratulatory response. But no worries. We received our reality check when we came back that evening for Coconut #1’s open house complete with our entire entourage. Minus the dog.
It started out innocently enough. We were ushered into the sanctuary of the church that is attached to the kids’ school for a briefing. Barely had we sat down when Coconut #1 starts. “Hey! There’s my friend. Can I go talk to her?” “Mom, where’s my classroom?” “Mom, where’s music class going to be?” “Mom, where’s Spanish going to be?” “Mom, do you think so and so will be back?” What am I, a psychic? I get her quieted down just in time for the principle to start into his spiel and then I hear Coconut’s 2 and 3 fighting over my phone. Her: “I wanna look at pictures!” Him: “No! I wanna play a game!” Me: “I wanna spank someone’s rear!” That seemed to settle things down. For now.
Next it was off to the classroom where the real fun began. It’s interesting to me that as our kids get older, there appears to be less parent involvement. It just seems that as they get ready to go through the tsunami of hormones and adolescence, we should be that much more available to them but that’s just my two cents. Back to my story. There was a drastically reduced representation of parents at the 3rd grade level. Most kids only had one parent there with them. Not us, of course. We were there to represent! And represent we did. Especially that moment when Coconut #3 discovered the empty seat next to her sister complete with candy meant for the missing student. I watched the whole thing unfold as I was supposed to be absorbing information. Eyes fixed on the candy, she sidled up next to her sister and began to slide the empty chair out. Before I could say anything however, Coconut #2 saw the empty spot as well. As soon as #3 had the chair slid out far enough, her bigger, faster brother plopped his little derriere down in it. Hubby and I looked at each other at the exact same time in terror. See, #3 takes nothing off her brother and sister. Since her vocabulary is limited her method of retaliation is often physical, always swift, and so loud that it may cause sudden and permanent nerve damage to anyone within a mile or so away. Hubby and I stifled hysterical, nervous laughter and I muttered under my breath, “Do something!” He, being the charming, brave man that he is replied, “I’ve never seen that kid before in my life.” And scoots a few feet away from the scene. Meanwhile the situation is escalating as I watch #3 take it all in. As there are parents in my way and pushing them aside is my only option, I stand my ground to see what Rambo-ette is going to do. Much to my surprise she comes back towards me.
At this point I started to breathe a sigh of relief. Disaster averted! Until that is, she grabs an empty chair and begins pushing it with all of her might towards the desks her brother and sister are sitting at. Never mind the fact that there is about 4 adults, a baby stroller, and another toddler in her way. I stood paralyzed with dread as I watched her begin to push her weapon of mass destruction towards the group in front of her, intending to simply plow through them. Thankfully I managed to break free of my paralysis to lunge forward and hook my foot around the leg of the chair without knocking anyone over. Looks like all my years of ballet came in handy. As I stood there tottering on one foot trying to determine when she was going to notice it was I obstructing her journey and begin yelling at me, a late arrival through the door happened to diffuse the situation. The child whose rear end belonged in the chair that I had wrapped around my foot had just walked in. Giving me an opportunity to divert the 3 year old and look magnanimous in the process as I “helped” the late arrival find his seat (that I had managed to pull back into it’s proper location behind the desk) God is so good.
I can’t tell you the relief I felt walking out of that room. As I fanned my face to reduce my blood pressure, I heard Hubby mention, “You know next year we could have 3 open houses to attend.” I could have kicked him right then and there. I never realized that parenting could turn a perfectly sane person into a raving lunatic. And then I had these Coconuts of my own. Ed Asner was right when he said, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” But as we drove off into the summer night, my little family and I, I realized there was no other place on earth that I would rather be. I had a life before my husband and the Coconuts but I don’t remember much about it. And I thank God every day for that.