Yep, I know — I don’t really have to pass Kindergarten, because it’s actually Punkernoodle One who’s about to start school. But if the past few weeks have shown me anything, it’s that grade school is secretly a test for the parents. Remember having to complete your homework, learning to study, doing book reports and science fairs and navigating the scary things like the playground and lunchroom? And you thought that those days were past, that you paid your dues and learned all the life lessons and would never have to return to those squeaky hallways or answer to the teacher and principal again? Hah! Not. Just kidding. Countdown until I am officially back in school for another 15 or so years: two days. So in honor of this milestone, I thought I would explore, in a series of blog installments, the reasons that I might become the gossip topic of all the other organized and everything-is-taken-care-of mothers. So, Reason #10 why I might flunk out of Kindergarten:
Paperwork. The god-forsaken paperwork just keeps coming. It’s like the onslaught of the 11th plague, right behind swarms of locusts in terms of my ability to stem the tide. It started about 4 weeks ago, taking me by total surprise. First it was a letter from the school district welcoming us, confirming our school assignment, and requesting a few signatures. No problem. Then it was another letter from the Infectious Diseases department mentioning that Punkernoodle was missing her newest installment of tetanus, the vaccine booster required by the state between ages 4 and 6. Uh, ok — she just turned 5 a couple of weeks ago. We have, like, a year. But before I could rush her to the doctor to get stuck and sign on the dotted line, another packet comes from the Washington State is Last in Education Funding Department, kindly reminding us that if we want our child to go to full-day Kindergarten (thereby getting the social studies, handwriting, music and physical education lessons saved for afternoons) we had better cough up our $207 per month extra tuition. Um, excuse me — don’t I already pay for public education??? It’s called taxes.
But I digress. Almost daily now, between Punkernoodle One’s Kindergarten business and Punkernoodle Two’s new Montessori preschool (field trips, Sharing Schedule, Orientation alert, CPR training calendar), the wave of School Mail has come. I am not an organized person by nature. My mother will tell you this. She will tell anyone this. I do laundry twice a month, in a good month. If it wasn’t for Mr. Punkernoodle, the mortgage might not get paid. How am I going to keep track of all these dead trees they keep sending to my house??? I am overwhelmed with anxiety thinking that I am going to show up on the first day, and on every day after that, and the infinitely organized Kindergarten teacher is going to look at me expectantly, raising a slightly alarmed brow, as I fumble with a clusterfuck of crumpled papers for the one form or document I was supposed to have come prepared with. And that of course I will cast a mark upon my poor child that will hobble her for the rest of her school days. In order to address this looming problem, this tidal wave of paperwork, I went out and bought some devices: a mail box thingy for the kitchen, a binder for each kid, a three-hole punch, labels, sticky tags, fancy colored gel pens (ok, I know that has nothing to do with it but they didn’t have all this cool stuff when I was in school!). Of course, it’s all still sitting in the bag somewhere.
Maybe this is my chance at a fresh start. Maybe I need some kind of ceremony, to open my mind to organization. Maybe I can make a voodoo doll of my disorganized self and symbolically stick a needle right into the heart? Hey, I know! I can go find all that paperwork the schools are waiting for and papier-mache a graven image of my disorganized self. Then I can burn it in effigy.