While waiting to pick Noah up from his first day of camp, another mother cheerfully cooed to Ezra and asked about my sling and lamented that her son would never let her use one, but sighed and said she hoped her next baby will be more accommodating. She patted her stomach, which did indeed look rather pregnant, but you know, I'm not saying a damn word unless I see some damn placenta on the sidewalk. I nodded and admitted I never had much luck getting Noah to sit in a sling either, but raved about what a lifesaver it's been this time around. Look at us! Two moms, hanging outside of summer camp, just like any two moms outside of any summer camp, with none of the shadowy adjectives that were oddly absent from the camp signage. Little Friends In Motion, it said instead. It's not occupational therapy, it's fucking toddler pilates.
We collected our older boys and continued to chat on the way back to our cars. Noah was wailing because he didn't want to leave and (as I would later learn) because his shoes were full of dried beans and sand from the camp's own shoebox obstacle course. Her son couldn't get out of there fast enough and she struggled to keep a grip on him. ADHD, she told me. He spent his entire year at preschool trying to climb the bookcases.
I nodded. Noah spent most of HIS year hiding under the table in the play kitchen, I told her.
Ooh, yeah, she sighed. Makes writing that tuition check EXTRA fucking fun, right? (God, I like her, I thought.) At least you didn't get expelled?
We almost did, I admitted. Or at least his teacher...well, eh. It's complicated. We won't be going back there.
She nodded. Our school threatened to expel us, too.
God, I said.
I know, she said. Whatever happened to...you know...TEACHERS? My kid is not a Christmas cookie. He's still just dough! Work with him, teach him!
Oooh. Good metaphor, I thought. I should steal that one.
Her son made a break for it and she started to waddle after him, but paused long enough to ask me one last question. What preschool did you guys go to?
I told her, practically spitting out the name.
(Bitter? Me? What?)
She froze and I saw all the color drain from her face. Bu-but that's where we're sending him next fall! They told us they were experienced with...that they were fully equipped...that...
I didn't know what else to say. So I said that I was sorry.
(Think she'll still want to be my friend? I could bring her some Christmas cookies on Wednesday? With a note that says, "I'm sorry I just blew all your hopes and dreams to hell, but look! Sprinkles!")