It starts off badly, right in the parking lot. It's crowded, very crowded. I see someone pulling out of a spot on the end and am halfway in before another car appears out of nowhere, honking and yelling. I protest meekly before backing out and taking another spot down the row, only to realize that it's too narrow and I cannot open the doors and get the boys out of their seats.
I stand there, panicking. We are going to be late. Suddenly, three girls appear and offer to help. They know our names and I realize they know us from my blog.
Somehow, we're all inside. It's bigger than I remember -- more like a cavernous warehouse than a waiting room. There are dozens of people milling around rows of chairs and cafeteria tables. I check in with the front desk (Noah Storch, speech evaluation, 1 P.M.) and we're instructed to wait and listen for our names.
We wait. And we wait. There are books and toys but neither of the boys wants anything to do with any of them. Names are being announced over an echo-y loudspeaker that I can't understand. Noah has climbed up a bookshelf and when I leap to retrieve him I notice he's wearing a Pull-Up. Why is he wearing a Pull-Up? He doesn't wear Pull-Ups. I look at his face and hair and...it's like he's morphed back into the two-year-old version of himself. And what's that awful sme...oh, GOD.
A woman appears, clearly annoyed. They've been calling our name for 20 minutes, why didn't we respond? I stammer an explanation and ask for five minutes and a changing table and am informed that if we forfeit this time slot we go to the back of the line. She questions the state of Noah's potty-training and I stammer again -- no, seriously, I'm so confused, he's totally trained, I don't know what's going on today -- she simply scribbles something on a clipboard and storms off.
Our turn comes up again and we're directed to a random set of chairs in the middle of the warehouse, and after I sit down I realize I have left the baby behind. I frantically look over and see that the three blog readers have appeared again. They are holding him, and nod to me reassuringly. It's okay, it's all okay.
I don't remember anything about the actual evaluation. It was too loud and I couldn't hear anything. We're waiting again. The toy area has been changed into some kind of stage, like for a puppet show. Ryan Seacrest hands me some sheet music and orders me to sing. I stand there and face a bored-looking audience, all uncomfortably perched on tiny preschooler-sized plastic chairs. Clipboard Lady comes midway through the song -- a showtune from Little Shop of Horrors, though not one I've ever heard before -- and tells me that the evaluation results indicate that I need a haircut. Luckily, they have someone on staff who can handle it.
I'm whisked out of the huge waiting area and through a series of cluttered rooms -- they look nothing like a school, but more like a grandmother's house, full of not-particularly attractive knickknacks. A woman surveys my hair and shows me some photos of other bloggers. Their hairstyles are all very short and I tell her that I don't look good with short hair. She tries to insist but I finally hold my ground. NO SHORT HAIR. I MEAN IT. She sighs and rolls her eyes at me, but wraps a brightly-colored knitted afghan around my neck and begins cutting, assisted by a cranky old man who looks like Noah's morning school bus driver. She makes about four snips with her scissors and my hair looks absolutely amazing. Then she asks for $750, plus another thousand for the evaluation. I gasp and tell her I don't have that much, and she removes the afghan and I'm in my underwear and Clipboard Lady asks about the whereabouts of my children and I realize I don't even know the names of the three blog readers but suddenly they are there too, without Noah or Ezra, and they shrug and say they can't help me anymore and I start crying and then I wake up and it was four in the morning and I've been awake ever since.
Noah has yet another evaluation today. For speech, at The Preschool. Starts at 1 P.M. I think it's going to go great!