Friday, February 27, 2009

One week ago

Last Friday I picked the girls up from daycare to take them home, and they were in their usual exuberant mood. Friday afternoons are supercharged: on Fridays so many kids are picked up early that the remainders all gather in the biggest classroom for a cookie-fueled free-for-all. The teachers are all happy, because it’s almost the weekend, and I suspect they’re extra generous with the sweets. The kids are extra happy, because they’ve been calorically boosted and then set free: craft projects at the tables, story time up in the loft, computer drawing or dinosaurs or kitchen or mix-and-match. Look! The dinosaurs are cooking breakfast! And as much as it warmed my heart to walk into that three-foot-high mosh pit to find my two girls playing kitchen together with Tariq, all three of them wearing pieces of costumes from the dress-up box, it’s always a little dismaying to see Just How Much Work it was going to take to pry my girls away from their heaven on earth.

Friday exits are protracted. For the girls, there’s more reluctance to put away their toys. There are extra allotments of teacher hugs, and teacher kisses. There are more stories bursting out, so that We can’t go yet! Because
Mommy! Mom! Mom, look! Wait! I have to tell you something! I have to tell you a secret!

Look at my stamper that Ms. Lisa put on my hand!


or

I have to take out my pony tails! Because Ms. Williams put them in so I have to leave the clips and fuzzies here!

or

Dis! Dis! Dis! as L fulfills her need to touch every single piece of artwork hung on the hallway wall, marking it with her fingerprint of approval.

For me, Fridays exemplify the theory that Parents Need More Hands. I have two sign-out sheets to sign, E’s weekly activity summary and L’s daily to collect, two bags to pack with empty milk cups and food bowls, two classroom refrigerators to check are emptied of any noteverstill family meals, two jackets to locate and wrassle onto four kinetic whirlybird limbs. But also: two sets of one week’s worth of art projects to carry home, two blankets and one pacifier to take home, wash and return on Monday, and, quite likely, two soggy, bitten-but-not-done-with cookies that we absolutely neeeed and really, really will eeeeat in the car.

So last Friday, after we said our goodbyes (finally) and got ourselves pack-muled up (me) and fancy-free (them), we walked outside into the dusk.

(By “walked out into the dusk” I mean: I awkwardly and bruise-creatingly used an elbow, a knee, a kidney and a heel to open a heavy glass door without dropping anything, and a pink and a purple panther lept past me before the door was more than a third open, bumping my parcels about and causing the door nearly to squish me in the backlash, such that I had to open it nearly from scratch to let my laden-like-a-mule self through fast enough for them to hear my reminder not to run past the tree.)

And miracle of miracles, they both immediately stopped. Although I quickly realized it had nothing to do with my pleas not to jump into oncoming traffic: they had spotted a little cottontail rabbit on the grass.

For a microsecond the whole world was still, and all the creatures were quiet.

And then both my girls shrieked. One shrieked while pointing: Ooh! A quack quack! and gave chase to the terrified little animal. One shrieked while fleeing: Aah! Mommy! He’s going to get me! Don’t let him get me! Don’t let him get my bag!

And I was positioned uselessly in the middle of the sidewalk, weighted by 100 different things (none of them mine), watching one child run away crazily into the dark trees and one child run away recklessly in the opposite direction, toward the street.

Getting in the car that night took extra-majestic feats of Mom-strength (some physical, lots mental, tons psychological). And you know that Little Bunny Fu-Fu will never quite recover.

Someone warn the animals: in a few short hours I’m going down to the daycare for Friday pick-up.
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