Monday, October 18, 2010

To Key Or Not To Key...

Last Thursday was Inara's real first day of school.  But wait, you ask.  Wasn't the first day of school back in September?  Didn't Mahreen drag us through a week's worth of incredibly self-involved and emotional posts about the big event? Well yes, my friends, I did indeed.  And that was just the beginning.

Since September, I've been going with Inara to school.  Not just dropping her off, but actually going with her, for three days a week in the afternoon, and staying the whole time while Yousuf comes home from work early to be with a (hopefully) napping Nissa.  At first, I was volunteering in the class, because we all knew that leaving Inara at school was not an option. This is the child who will cry herself to the point of vomiting if she even thinks about spending an extended period of time away from her parents.  She has never been to preschool.  She has never been with a babysitter.  She has never even spent the night with her grandparents.  It's always been just us.  And I didn't think that it was realistic for me to expect her to suddenly go from spending every moment with us to happy-go-lucky yay-leave-me-at-school-for-three-hours. And I was right. She was absolutely mortified when she discovered that school was only for kids that were - gasp!- HER AGE.

So. I volunteered in the class for the first few weeks, and then slowly started extricating myself from the classroom.  It's been this way with Inara since she was littler.  When we moved her from our bed to her own crib, it was teeny tiny steps.  We put in the crib next to us and then slowly moved the crib one foot away, another foot away, next to the closet, in the doorway (where it stayed for three nights, and obstructed Yousuf's way whenever he had to go for a midnight pee) and then the hallway, and finally into her own room.  And of course there were setbacks.  If she got upset or lonely we'd bring the crib back another step, back into the doorway for another couple of nights (Yousuf was filled with such joy and elation every time he stubbed his toe on the crib) or back into our bed if she needed it.  It's always been on her terms, with a gentle push from us.  It was the same way with starting solids, walking, potty training.  Everything with Inara is calculated, gradual, unhurried and HARD, mostly because she is so darn smart that there is no tricking her into a new routine. I expected no less with school.

This week the teachers, Yousuf and I collectively decided, after talking with Inara, that it was time for me to make the big break from school and LEAVE HER THERE.  To say that I was nervous is such an understatement that it's laughable.  Surprisingly, Inara was very okay with it. She actually told me that when I popped in and out of classroom all day she felt "all mixed-up" because she didn't know if I was coming or going. And that's when we all realized that she was ready for me to go, and that she was giving me permission to leave.  Snifflesnifflesniffle.

The big day was on Thursday and Yousuf and I did everything to play it up, make it exciting, yet still address Inara's concerns.  It was SO HARD for me to keep a brave face on, and not think about what would happen if she needed me or if she couldn't put on her jacket by herself or if she missed a spot when wiping her bum (seriously, that just grosses me out so much!) - but I did it. And like I said, she was okay.  She knew what was going to happen and she said she was going to "try it out without Mama".

We all woke up early and because we only have one car, Yousuf had to bike in to work.  He left after hugs and high-fives and kisses all around and then I had a couple of hours to get us all sorted out and ready for The Drop Off.  Now, usually I am the type of person who sits around in the mornings - usually in my pajamas, half-conscious and possibly moaning - with a huge mug of tea velcroed to one hand as I wait for the copious amounts of caffeine to wash away the effects of half a decade of interrupted nighttime sleep. BUT! Not on Thursday, my friends. On Thursday I was on my A-game.

As soon as Yousuf left I made one, two, three lunches, packed snacks, changed one, two, three people and then in a fit of inspiration (which bore more than a passing resemblance to a fit of insanity) I tore around the house finding all the last minute things that normally take me half an hour to find as we're leaving the house and inevitably make us late. Wallet: Check. Cell phone: Check. House keys: Check. Van keys: VAN KEYS?!?!

And I realized, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, that the van keys were missing. I checked the little basket by the door, with no luck.  I checked every single one of my bags and jackets - no luck.  And then I remembered that Yousuf had driven the van the night before, so I checked his jacket and all his pants. NO LUCK.  By that time I was huffing, sweating and giving off a definite Insane Mama vibe. And before we go any further, I must clarify that we only have one set of keys to the van because that's what happens when you buy a very used van with $7000 cash. Thankyouverymuch El Cheapitan. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So then I called the man, the mystery, El Cheapitan himself, and nearly lost my gourd when it went straight to his answering machine.  I have to admit to leaving a not very nice message for him. And then I tried his cell phone, which he never answers, and I guess there was a chance of hail in Hades that day because I got him on the first ring.

"Hi, honey!" said his cheery voice.
"Hello yourself." said my murderous undertone.
"What's up?" he said, innocently unaware of what was to follow.
"What is UP is that I can't find the van keys. And I'm wondering if you could possibly have ANY IDEA where they could be?  And could you think about it really fast because I have to get Inara to school for her first day without me, which as I'm sure you are well aware of, is a HUGE FREAKING DEAL."
"Right. (rummaging sounds) So. The van key is right here in my bag."
(Silence then follows, during which time I am wondering if the Matrix will allow me to reach through the phone and strangle my beloved husband)
"Blargleflarglephwweeeepppphssss!" I managed to utter, as my eyeballs popped out of my head and I heard tiny little explosions going off in my brain.
"I can fix this." El Cheapitan said, with an edge of hysteria to his voice.
"You must fix this. Now." I whispered - because when I'm really REALLY mad, I go beyond the yelling stage. I go right to Homicidal Whispering.  That's how you know I'm serious.

And then, fifteen minutes later, El Cheapitan was at the door - throwing me the keys and rummaging for cash to pay the taxi that had come to drop him off and take him back to school.  He planted a kiss on my cheek and gave me his big "I'm Sorry Please Don't Kill Me" eyes.  So I didn't (very law-abiding of me, I know).  And the girls and I flew out the door for Inara's First Day Of School.  I dropped her off, and Nissa blew her kisses from the window, and her teacher held her hand as we walked away.  And she was fine.

As we were walking away however, her teacher popped her head out of the classroom to give me some much-needed encouragement.  I guess she could tell that this whole thing was a lot harder for me than it was for my daughter, my firstborn, my precious four year-old BABY.

"Mrs. George!" she chirped,  "I just wanted to tell you that everything is going to be OKAY!  And look!  Inara is doing so well!  She is so big!!  And you!  Look at you!  You are going to be just fine. Think of all the free time you will have!  I'm so proud of you and both MADE IT TO SCHOOL!"

"Oh," I replied, walking away and resisting every urge to not break down into histrionics, "We sure did make it. And you have NO IDEA how hard we worked to get here today."

Epilogue: After school, I picked Inara up and we went to go get Yousuf from work.  By then I had decided that it served no purpose to torture him, especially because Inara was really excited to tell him about her first day.  And also because I promised her that we'd go out for dinner afterward (ha HA! See how I did that?).  When we got there, Yousuf said that he was so sorry for forgetting about the van keys, but it was definitely a mistake he would not be repeating.  Because the taxi cost him FIFTY DOLLARS round-trip to bring back the van key.  Oh, El Cheapitan.  I bet that hurt you WAAAAAY worse than a Matrix strangle.  And then the poor guy had to take us out for dinner!

Sometimes, revenge is a dish best served at a semi-fancy restaurant with nice lighting.  And you know what else? It tastes GOOD.

I am El Cheapitan, and I just spent boatloads of money today for no good reason. 
It was the Best. Day. EVER!!
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