Off To a Good Start, Part Two: In Which We Replace "Good" With "OMG"
October 06, 2009
So. Okay.* The Other Story.
*Does anyone remember LonelyGirl15? The really early videos when she was just cute and vlogging and only vaguely ominously in danger, before things went kind of off the rails and involved too many shaky-running-scenes through parking garages? She always started those videos by saying "So. Okay." or some variant and anyway I seem to have caught a touch of that this week. I don't know why either.
First, some background. If you were reading this summer, you may remember a post about a mother I met at Noah's summer camp. Our encounter started with some banter about slings and second babies (she was pregnant) and then we immediately moved on to the business of Crap Ass Preschools and their treatment of even the mildest of special needs. She was feisty and clever and I liked her immediately, but then everything took a turn for the HOLY SHITBALLS AWKWARD when I mentioned our old preschool by name. It turned out to be the very school she was planning to send her son this fall, having been fed the same goddamn lines about their "experience" with sensory and attention issues. It understandably rattled her, and I assured her we'd talk more about it later.
And then the next day she completely, almost willfully ignored me. And the day after that. No eye contact. I would smile and wave and...nothing. So I spent a good amount of the summer fuming and Twittering about it. WHAT THE HELL, SENSITIVE PREGNANT LADY, IT'S NOT MY FAULT THEY SUCK. YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL THAT YOU KNOW. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY BE WANTING MY FRIENDSHIP. AND YES. I AM CAPS LOCK IN REAL LIFE.
Flashforward** to last Thursday: Noah's first day at The Preschool.
**Dude. Was there not a TREMENDOUS drop in quality from the pilot to the second episode? If you were one of the many people who missed the first episode and then watched last week's because I got all breathy and caps-locky on you about OMGWATCHFLASHFORWARD, I apologize. I was possibly mislead. Charlie From Lost is still supposedly going to show up? So? Eh?
The arrival and drop-off routine at The Preschool involves kids and parents all sitting in a designated area off of the lobby until the teachers and aides arrive to escort every one down to the classroom at once, thus minimizing the distraction of students who attend The Elementary School. While I knew we were joining an established class, I didn't realize just HOW established. It's a mixed-age class, going all the way up to six years old. Noah is the youngest by a good six months. Most of the kids and families have known each other for at least a year -- two years in a couple cases. So. Hi, I'm the New Girl. I overheard birthday party discussions and playdate plans and everybody knew everybody and Noah was...really not happy with the waiting room arrangement, since he knew he was at The Camp but we didn't wait in this room at The Camp and why won't I let him go to The Camp gaaaaaaahhhhhhmeltdown. I was caught a little off-guard by how stressful I found it all to be.
And then two little boys became entranced with Ezra and proceeded to take turns kissing him on the mouth. I mentally made up my mind right then and there about the H1N1 vaccine and tried to politely suggest that hey, LET'S NOT DO THAT...and that's when I saw Her.
The Mom From Summer Camp. I was torn between reverting to my WTF IS YOUR PROBLEM LADY stance and immense gratitude that hey, at least it's someone I know and someone Noah knows and I directed Noah's attention to hey look it's Johnny!*
*His name is not Johnny.
Another mother said something like, "Oh, you guys know each other?"
And just as I nodded, the Mom From Summer Camp looked me in the eye and said no.
Y'all, my jaw dropped a good foot and a half and I was overcome with a desire to DIE or MELT TO THE FLOOR or hurl myself at a nearby potted plant, Jon-Gosselin-Girlfriend style.
I think I managed to say something about oh, actually, YES, the boys were at summer camp together. I could tell she was genuinely struggling to place me, but Noah's name finally rang a bell and THANK GOD, the teacher showed up right then to save me from all this "conversing with other grownups" bullshit.
Back in the car, I kind of laughed about it. Here I'd been so worried that by unwittingly bashing the preschool I'd made some kind of crazy faux pas, thus forever earning her scorn and ire and it turned out that the conversation had BARELY registered on her radar, or at least the person she had the conversation with. Who the fuck do I think I am, honestly?
And either way, fresh start! Moving on! Let's make some mom friends! You can do this!
When I arrived to pick Noah up a few hours later, she pulled into the parking lot at the same time. I suddenly wondered if she'd had her baby -- she was still wearing the same long baggy clothing but certainly didn't look pregnant, though she didn't have a baby with her now.
We started walking together.
"I'm sorry," she said, "Did we really meet each other this summer?"
"Yessssss," I said, smiling as hard as I possibly could, resisting the urge to reveal the fact that I remembered every word of our singular conversation like it was yesterday. So there.
"Wow, I was really in such a fog. Drop off, pick up. You know."
"Mm-hmmmmmmm," And then I couldn't help myself. I asked about whether her son attended a preschool in the morning. NO REASON. JUST CURIOUS.
And then what followed suddenly got...confusing. Yes, her son does go somewhere in the morning, but certainly not our old school, and then there were other details that just didn't jibe with our old preschool even being a possibility for him.
And I suddenly had a flash of clarity. I could suddenly see the face of the mom I had the preschool conversation with.
And it wasn't her. It wasn't HER.
All summer. ALL SUMMER YOU GUYS. I have been obsessing over the WRONG WOMAN. I have gone out of my way to engage the wrong woman in eye contact, smiling, finally giving up and flat-out glaring, because WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM WITH ME?
Oh, I don't know. Maybe something do with all the bug-eyed crazy faces I made at someone whom I never actually said a single word too? Someone who actually seems very shy and soft-spoken and OH YEAH, completely not even a little bit pregnant?
At this point I am wondering whether I had some kind of Fourth-of-July fireworks-induced stroke, because I cannot even BEGIN to understand how I ever got them mixed up. They both had...brown hair? Kind of...tall? I THINK the first woman, the Real One, either stopped sending her son to the camp or someone else took over drop-off and pick-up duties because now I don't remember seeing her again after the first day, and thus I inexplicably pinned all my hopes and dreams of Mom Friendship on the next tallish brunette in a flowy top that I laid my eyes on.
Basically: Amy, this is why you can't have nice things. Or friends. Or permission to leave the house unsupervised.
/dying of shame, paranoia, & plans to delete this post before an updated class list is distributed with last names and I achieve the Social Pariah status that I so clearly and justly deserve