If you have issues with cursing just walk away now because I have to unleash some feelings and I don’t think I’ll edit.
Today, as we geared up for the first day back to school after winter break, I remembered that I fucking hate taking Jesse to school. I hate it in an irrational, tantrumy, 5- year-old-facing-down-broccoli way. I’m so fucking tired of it. Counting preschool and Jesse’s traumatic, PTSD-inducing 7-month stint in the most evil Montessori school ever, I’ve been taking Jesse to school for 5 and a half years now. I want a new job.
First, I have to make her lunch because of her egg allergy. It’s a ball and chain in my life. Jesse doesn’t eat packaged or normal so it’s either some crazy home made taco array with fresh tortillas, or fresh bread. Fresh as in I have to make it and bake it, otherwise she won’t bother to eat, and then her blood sugar and her mood go all haywire. Bad. When well-meaning (or maybe not) people suggest I send something easier in her lunch and she can take it or leave it, I say things like “yeeeah I don’t think that’ll work…” and I try to sound like a hippy. But inside I’m thinking mature, constructive things like, “why don’t you shut the fuck up, you patronizing asshole, or I will beat the shit out of you, and don’t think for a minute that you can take me because under this blub I am CHISELED.”
Next, I have to get Jesse fed and dressed in the morning, via some random combination of threats and promises. I used to have action plans and sticker charts, but they made no difference so I just live in the moment now. It’s all pulling teeth, and most of the time it involves a great deal of whining and dissent. Jesse often joins me in the noise-making. Getting out to the car involves more threats, more promises, more grim waiting. On the worst days, Jesse screams during most of the 5-minute drive to school. If she knew how to curse, she would curse me to hell all the way. Picture Charlton Heston on a beach.
The battle continues when we get to school. Usually I end up standing next to her open car door in the parking lot, bent over with my hands on my knees, insanely muttering “God I hate this I hate this, this is the worst part of my day” while she sits glumly, refusing to get out of the car. By now, the promises have been used up and it’s all threats. Eventually she dawdles her way to the school doors. When she starts with the whining noises, I think things like, “oh my dear lord, you little shit, get your ass through that door or I will drag you by the ankle to your classroom and good riddance.”
Then comes the worst part of all, when I sit on the bench outside the entrance and help Jesse put on her backpack. As other children straggle past, she turns to me with those enormous, puddly green eyes, sad and scared, leans in on me and murmurs intensely, earnestly, “Mommy I don’t want to go to school, I just want to stay with you.”
I can’t even say it makes me feel guilty; it’s worse than that. I feel broken and useless. After 5 and a half years, how come I haven’t figured this out yet? Why is it so hard? But Jesse and I have to keep moving before the emotional shale slips out from under our feet and flattens us. We hold each other, touch foreheads and lock eyes, ignore sweet-and-easy Nick for a moment. I whisper sweet nothings to her. You’re an awesome kid, have a great day, go with the flow, let yourself be ish, see you at the end of the day, I love you. She nods and takes a breath for courage, puts on her backpack and grabs her lunch. We fake smiles for each other. We tuck our broken hearts away and step forward into a new day. More often than not, she takes one last look at me as she walks through the door, but then she trudges on without a glance back, a diminutive 46-pound soldier walking to her schoolroom doom.
Do over tomorrow.
Jesse is so beautiful. As are you and your honesty and your brave parenting. Bravo to both of you for soldiering on! Hugs all around. (But reminder to self — do not send Carla lunch suggestions…)