Tuesday is my morning to chauffeur the lovely Miss Jayna to her nursery school, and doing so is always a bit of a crap shoot, because I never know which Jayna I’m going to get. Will it be the “Yay! School!” Jayna, or the “I DON’T WANNA GO TO SCHOOL! [weeping and crying and screaming]” Jayna?
This morning, it seemed to be the middle ground: she was neither psyched nor horrified by the prospect … and when your child is balancing between the realms of “Best Possible Outcome” and “Worst Possible Outcome,” ye must tread lightly and be on the lookout for potential landmines, for one wrong move and BOOM! And that explosion, brothers and sisters, will topple your little bundle of joy from the balance beam of ambiguity into a very clearly defined emotional realm, and you will wish you could put your fingers in your ears and curl up in a ball until The Screaming and The Crying have stopped.
And you definitely, definitely, de-fin-ite-ly do not want The Screaming and The Crying to take place as you attempt to part with your little bundle of joy during the preschool drop-off, because then you have yourself A Situation—or, worse yet, A Scene.
The procedure for dropping one’s child off at Jayna’s preschool is for the parents to hand off their respective children just inside the front door of the schoolhouse. It is at this moment that things are most likely to go awry.
I decided to test the waters by broaching the subject shortly after we pulled out of the driveway.
“Now, Jayna, this morning, Daddy needs to say ‘Bye-bye’ at the door, and you need to let Mrs. So-and-so help you hang up your coat, OK?”
“NOOooooooo!” [massive pout]
Is that a landmine I feel beneath my foot? Why, I do believe it is. Let us hope that I have not yet placed upon it enough pressure to cause detonation. Time to change the subject.
Jayna’s favorite playtime activity with me at home starts with her saying, “I’m the mommy and you’re the little boy.” We played this just prior to leaving for preschool, in fact, and our playing included pretending that the mommy had to go to work. I decided to see if I could smooth things over by attempting to get us back into play mode.
“Jayna, I know what we can do! Let’s pretend I’m the little boy and you’re the mommy and I’m driving you to your office so you can do your work! That’s fun, right?”
“NO.” [pouting intensifies]
“No?” No, you schmuck, of course not. Why would you think that she’d think that that was fun? Just because it’s the only thing she ever wants to do? You’re blowing it here, dude. Oh, and you’re also talking to yourself. And, hey, speaking of fun and talking to yourself, lemme ask you: Are you having any fun yet?
Hmmm. I had to think fast, for, clearly shewas losing her balance and tipping toward the Dark Side.
“Oh, wait, I know what we can do: Let’s pretend we’re The Little Einsteins and we’re taking you to school in Rocket!”
“Yeah! Let’s do it, Daddy!”
“I’m Annie and you’re Leo,” she told me.
“Awesome. Now let’s help Rocket blast off.” And, as we all know, the takeoff procedure for Rocket begins by patting your hands on your thighs patty-cake style while saying “pat pat pat pat.”
So we’re patting.
“But we need more power!” says Leo, who is flying Rocket, except it’s me who says it while trying to simultaneously drive a car and pat my lap. “Patpatpatpatpatpat!” we say in unison, speeding up our patting.
“Now raaaaaaise your arms … as hiiiiiigh as you can … [and steeeeeeer with your knee] … and sayyyyyyy ‘Blast off!'”
OK, I think we’re good here. I think we’re alright.
“Sing the song, Daddy!”
Wanna be a parent? Then you best learn to play along, my friends.
I belt out the song.
“We’re going on a trip/in our favorite Rocket ship/Zooming through the sky!/Little Einsteins!” and so on and so forth. I was brilliant.
Two complete renditions later, we arrive at school, and I walk her to the front door, but she’s not having any of that leave-her-at-the-door nonsense. Clinging ensues.
Fortunately for our heroes, Mommy is on the school board for Jayna’s preschool, and Daddy built the preschool’s website pro bono, and the teacher who usually greets us at the door is one whom Daddy’s little brother and sister each had at the same preschool some 30-plus years ago—which is probably why the staff there is willing to allow us to be the only parents who walk their child up the stairs to the coat room and then back down to the classroom rather than abandoning our clingy child at the door. And while I don’t like to take unfair advantage of a situation, that is exactly what I did this morning, because sometimes? Sometimes, feeling bad about taking advantage still feels better than the alternative.
The good news is: I’m no longer talking to myself. The bad news is: the reason I’m not talking to myself is that I’m singing to myself. “The Little Einsteins” theme. Over and over. In my head. For the past 13 hours.