Thursday, May 25, 2006
Adulthood is not a given.
I had pretty well exhausted my parenting patience by noon today. I'm thinking of going out and finding a refrigerator box to keep them enclosed... er, I mean, entertained... for the evening.

First, I got to the Y at like 8:55 this morning, just enough time to get Jacob settled into the babysitting room and then head to my Hour of Misery with Whatshername. He was a little uncertain, but not too nervous - then just as I was about to walk out the door, Miss Jenny, the "babysitter" announced, "Okay, we're all going outside now!" She tried to take Jacob's hand and he wanted NOTHING to do with her. Luckily there was an older girl there, maybe 7, who held his hand, and he was okay with that. But I had a bad feeling about Miss Jenny's level of awareness and oomph, so I snuck behind them and watched.

The playground area is pretty wide open, mostly covered in sand - I try really, really hard to convince myself that cats do NOT sneak in there at night and use it like a big old Roman bathhouse potty party type thing - with swings and a slide around the outside. The six or eight kids from the babysitting room all filed out nicely and decorously, and then scattered like, well, like kids on a playground. Go figure. But Jacob, not yet schooled in the ways of playground scattering, was left standing all by himself in the middle of the sand, no one within 30 feet of him in any direction. He stood, and looked, and I could just watch the anxiety and fear wash over him. He trembled, and a finger went into the mouth, and his eyes welled up, and the breathing started to hitch... just generally the saddest thing ever.

Miss Jenny did notice this pretty quickly, but her solution was to stand where she was, about 50 feet away, and call to Jacob. First of all, she calls him Jake, which isn't an unforgivable offense in itself but he doesn't know that's his name. And secondly, she already made him uncomfortable by grabbing for his hand, no way is he going to seek her out now. I gave it three full minutes, then went outside and walked over to him. He had the biggest, sobbing, clingiest hugs. Which was sweet and all, but there are better ways for me to get snuggles, I think.

Once I was there with him, Miss Jenny saw fit to come over and say, "Oh, is he okay?" I told her, "Well, no. Like I told you last week, him coming here is the first time he's ever been away from family. He's pretty scared. He's been crying since you came outside." She said, "Oh."

Now, in Miss Jenny's defense, I don't think she has any children of her own, and she looks to be about 19. So maybe this job is the first time in her life in which she's been around children. Which makes me want to pinch the hiring committee at the Y, and I still want to pinch her anyway because if you can't do a good job at your job, DON'T SIGN UP FOR IT. Especially when it involves MY kids.

So about 15 minutes later I was finally able to get Jacob set up coloring and playing, and I snuck out. Forgot my water bottle, but decided dehydration was a small price to pay for leaving behind a happy kid. I was 10 minute late to class after arriving 10 minutes early, but fine. I'm tired and working on sore anyway.

There was an amusing moment in the middle of class. It's held in a room that's relatively open and well-lit, but the floor is in horrible shape. It's a big, blue indoor/outdoor carpet that may once have served as the entryway to a biker bar, and so it's ripped in several places and there's a big, several-foot-wide section in the middle that buckles up about six inches. We reached a point in class where we were all instructed to line up against the mirror and then do these lunge-steps across the room - and, being mindless lemmings, we all did. As we started, Whatshername said, as perky as can be despite my own personal fatigue and oxygen starvation, "Be careful of that big lump in the middle!" I happened to be right in the middle of the group, so I was able to gasp back, "You mean the carpet, right? Not me?" Whatshername didn't get it, but several of the other sweat-ees found it apt.

Then afterward, we're driving home and my cell phone rings. It's Emily's teacher, with a long convoluted story which basically boiled down to, Connor told his mom that he saw Emily and another little boy - I can't call him the names I want to call him so let's just settle for Josh-Beast - kiss over in the blocks corner of the kindergarten room. Connor's mom called the school principle, who called in Emily and Josh-Beast to have a talk with them about school rules, keeping our hands to ourselves, blah blah blah [insert Peanuts teacher voice here]...

I don't think Emily is self-aware enough to be humiliated, but boy oh boy do I have enough to cover both of us. I am aghast, appalled, chagrined... all of those. And I'm PISSED at Emily - not for doing it, it was stupid but I don't know of anyone who makes it to first grade without doing something stupid - but because when we got in the car to come home, I asked her, "What happened in school today?" and I got a litany of school-related tasks - she didn't admit to that whole first-trip-to-the-principal's-office thing until I directly asked about it.

So I'm second-guessing everything I have ever done as a parent, because I thought I had created two relatively self-confident beasts, and yet Jacob was determined that 9:00 HAD to be the time for his barnacle impression. I also thought we had created an atmosphere of openness and honesty, where we would, at the very least, ask questions first and administer beatings later.