You have to be on time.
Really, I’m not kidding about this. There’s a bell, and then 5 minutes later, a “tardy bell,” and if you don’t have your kid delivered to their teacher/line/classroom by then, you are Late. Pretty hard and fast, no??? I mean, where’s the freakin flexibility, people? So what if our country is last in the world behind Namibia in terms of education? (Or did Namibia finally pass us up?) I’m talking about a pretty hard-core system here, one which might be just a teensy bit prejudicial to mothers who can’t quite pull their great big steaming pile of responsibilities together every single morning.
Anyway. When you’re late, I’ve just discovered, you head into the Office, where you, as the tardy parent with the tardy child, sign a tardy sheet and take a fluorescent pink slip upon which is printed “I’M LATE” and force your child (who is likley innocent in this whole morning failure, though this writer is scarecely going to admit that given the requirement that follows) to carry said pink slip with them into class. But the best part is: Filling out the REASON for the tardiness on the Office sheet of shame. Yes. There’s a column for your child’s name, one for their room, one for time arrived at school, and one for the parent’s pathetic bumbling excuses. The excuse column caught me by surprise at first, but having had time to mull over it further, I have assembled some possible ”real” reasons for our tardiness which I can keep in a list in my phone and pull out whenever the need for a REASON arises:
1. Bluntly, Punkernoodle One had a wardrobe crisis. What appeared at first to be a satisfactory ensemble thrown together by her mother in between shrieks of lateness actually turned out to be wholly unsatisfactory for the very fashion-conscious Kindergarten set. Three changes and 25 minutes late(r), we were however ready to go and looking fabulous in a fetching jeggings/sweater/Silly Bands combo.
2. Partway to school, Mrs. Velush realized with a freezing chill of horror that she had forgotten the Blue Folder which must, must, must be returned to the Kindergarten teacher every morning. She was faced with a decision no parent should have to make: Cause her precious student to be late and return to the house through sheets of pounding rain to fetch the folder, or slide into school on time but empty-handed. The choice was obvious, no? No folder now, no Ivy League later. Parenting is treacherous; choices must be made.
3. Breakfast, breakfast, the travails of breakfast. What might possess two growing kids to turn up their noses at delicious, freshly cooked eggs and sausages is beyond this tardy parent’s comprehension. In Namibia, for example, children likely head off to their school hut with nothing more than a thimbleful of gruel and a squirt of goat milk to wash it down.
4. They tied me up, the kids did. I was going about my morning, organized and timely, frying eggs and packing tasty lunches, when they encircled me from two sides with a thin wire-like rope, brought me down to my knees, gagged me with a stuffy, and shoved me under the bed. They were able to eat 12 bowls of Goldfish and watch 4 interminable episodes of The Wiggles before I could loosen my bindings, wrestle them into their shoes and coats and drag them into school. Kids these days … minds of their own.
5. Fine. Mrs. Velush was in the last throes of Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” last night and was compelled to keep reading until she was done, at some way-too-late hour, and, fine, dammit, she admits it, then she couldn’t get herself up in the morning. Doesn’t the school district have a new emphasis on literacy? It couldn’t be helped….