“Will you come in with me?” his eyes wide, full of frantic energy, met mine from the backseat of the car, where he sat buckled in like a fighter-pilot.
“Of course we will, Baby,” I took his hand into mine, marveling at the feeling of his tiny bird-like bones beneath his skin.
He nodded, unsure if this was an elaborate trap, trying to get him to go to kindergarten under false pretenses – his Mama’s boy.
“We’re juuuuuust going to go and finish your registration,” I assured him, his hand still gripping mine for dear life. “And then we’ll go home.”
“Do I get a treat if I’m good…?” he asked slyly, always my wee conman.
I just laughed and nodded – that kind of simple request is about the easiest I’m dealing with these days. Although, to be fair, the kid wants a treat when he’s stayed dry overnight, when he’s eaten all of his dinner, when he’s managed to NOT to stay dry, when he’s properly wiped his own ass, when the moon is full, when the moon is NOT full.
Most treats involve Batman in one form or another. As the girl who’s first bra was a Super Woman training bra, I can fully support this.
We walked hand-in-hand into the school just as we’d done so many times before with our eldest son, Benjamin. I could hardly believe it wasn’t Ben’s hand I held in my own; that my middle son was ready for kindergarten. The same kid who was a clingy infant last week, not 4 years prior.
Standing in line at the registration counter to receive our “school handbook*,” I sat on a bench with Alex, remembering all the times I’d walked those hallowed halls with my firstborn. Suddenly, like a stab to the heart, I missed him terribly. I shook it off as best as I could as we made our way down the hallway that once led to Ben’s forth grade room, winding through a maze of kids and their parents.
“Okay, J,” I said, “It’s time to take a picture.”
He nodded solemnly.
“Now, see if you can make a REALLY silly face, like this,” I squished up my face, stuck my tongue out and gave the metal horns. Sorta like this:
He giggled, the laugh that always makes me burst into gales of laughter – it’s so from the heart, you simply can’t not join in.
“Okay, Mama,” he said, grinning ear to ear. The kid is a ham – he loves to make people laugh and this would be the ideal opportunity for him.
We stood around awhile in the LRC (did they always call the Library the LRC? I can’t remember, which, for some inexplicable reason makes me want to play Oregon Trail, but that is neither here nor there).
We stood in what appeared to be a line, but turned out to be just a bunch of people standing around, which is something I do often. Form lines of people in my head, and then stand around like a doofus, waiting for my turn until someone gently explains that I’ve been waiting on the fringes of a group of women discussing their cats.
I noted the large pile of combs sitting around and giggled – I don’t remember seeing combs when I had my last school pictures:
Could’ve benefited from both a comb AND a tan there. Possibly highlights, but this was back before Jennifer Aniston made everyone think that cutting your hair into face-framing layers and highlighting it would make you as beautiful as her.
Note to world: doesn’t work that way.
Alas, I motherfucking digress.
We stood there in the line-but-not-a-line for a long while, as I tried (in vain) to hack through the school’s firewall so I could tell The Twitter, “LOOK OUT BELOW, MOTHERFUCKERS!” It’s the little things in life, really.
Finally, a PTO lady who was probably in charge of all things picture-related stared at my arm tattoo to my son, back to my arm tattoo again before asking: “What’s his name?”
“Alexander Harks,” I replied, looking around for Daver, who is more official-looking than I, and therefore more apt to be taken seriously.
“Okay,” she replied, looking as though I might knife her or something, “ummmmm, you go stand in THAT line,” she said nervously as she pointed to the line farthest from her.
“Thanks!” I said brightly, giggling inside – I find it funny that a tattoo of a peacock would intimidate ANYone.
It’s not like I got a snake eating a lion with a knife oozing blood (although perhaps I should’ve).
We stood in that line (which was not ACTUALLY a line), waiting for the photographer. “Should we, uh, comb his hair?” Daver asked as we stood patiently in the non-line.
“Nah,” I replied. “Let’s remember him how he was at this age, and not all Toddlers and Tiaras.”
It was at that moment that I began to hear what sounded to be an Eagle, standing in the non-line next to me.
“Wait, WAIT,” she nearly screamed. “LET ME FIX HIS HAIR.”
The Helicopter Parent had arrived.
The little boy in question was starting kindergarten as well, and his hair, well, it appeared to be perfect from where I stood. I don’t know, maybe it was like all over his face like a werewolf or something – I couldn’t see. All that I *could* see was that he was just a little boy.
The Eagle Helicopter Mom swooped in and began to vigorously comb her son’s hair, practically hissing in his face, “YOU’RE GOING TO BE LOOKING AT THESE PICTURES FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. YOU BETTER LOOK GOOD!”
The three of us stood there, stunned into silence, as the Eagle Helicopter Mom prattled on. “Forever. You’ll be looking at these pictures FOREVER and YOU WANT TO LOOK YOUR BEST DON’T YOU?”
The kid just sat there, nodding – probably afraid of The Eagle’s wrath. I know *I* was.
(It was at this point that I began to smirk into my hand – maybe the kid’s future HUSBAND or WIFE might care, but most boys don’t give a flying shit about their school pictures)
By the time she’d fixed his hair so he looked impeccable (for a 5-year old), my own son had already had two snaps taken and was now standing neatly by my side, asking for a treat for “being good.”
I took one look back at “The Eagle” as we left the LRC (without playing Oregon Trail), and saw that she was standing there, trying to direct the school photog to make sure that the lighting was proper and that he had a “good angle” for the photograph – the shitty school photograph, not even one of those studio places.
“Did you make a face?” I asked Alex on the way out.
“I tried,” he looked up at me, hand firmly clutching my own.
“Good,” I smiled as I picked him up and twirled him around. “THAT is perfect.”
I’m sure “The Eagle” Helicopter Mommy will be all about retouching the snaps of her kid, pointing out all the flaws, and insisting that he have his photo redone, while I’ll be content looking my son. Just as he was. No more. No less.
I couldn’t ask for anything more.
*Not entirely sure WHAT that book is – could be The Anarchist’s Cookbook.