Last night was Parent Night at Ben’s new school. I sat there nervously next to The Daver on the hard pew and looked around into the sea of hippies all 10-15 years older than us, dressed in various shades of browns and greens nodding attentively. I was dressed in an electric red sweatshirt while Dave was wearing a bright purple shirt with blue jeans. The gasp of “there goes the neighborhood” when we walked in was palpable.
It’s not just that we were younger or that we were wearing designer clothes that weren’t from sustainable farms or that we didn’t listen to NPR or eat all organic foods, it’s just that we were different. They knew it, we knew it, and there was never going to be anything we could do about it.
I sat there, trying to pay attention as my ass cheeks feel asleep and noticed that I was the only parent in the room who spent the meeting figuring out how I was going to convince Dave that $450 pants were an investment.
Even Dave looked more enraptured by the speakers than I did. He wasn’t fidgeting, re-reading the handouts for what could be missed gossip about Britney Spears, or trying to count the hairs on HIS legs like I was.
It’s not that I don’t care about my 4 year old. I care very much about his preschool. I care what he eats and when he sleeps and if he potty trains on time and that he’s well adjusted and that he’s getting enough calcium and if he gets to play enough and most of all, if he’s happy. I care a lot about that.
But I can’t live my life for him.
And as we chose “groups” to join after the meeting was done, I introduced myself to the ethnic/cultural group that I had to join (joining a group, I learned, was mandatory) I plastered a smile on my face and was as polite and friendly as I could be as the circle of parents formed around me.
Pretty soon I was standing outside the circle, edged out by all of the unwashed, unshaved hippie women who, were living their lives for their children. So there I stood, on the outside of the circle, unwanted. I saw that, sighed and I walked away.
One of these things is not like the motherfucking other. Thank Jesus.
Several months after that, we pulled Ben out of that horrible school and then we moved out of that town. Our interactions with other parents and staff at the school never improved and it was very, very clear that there was never going to be anything that we could do to fit in.
With friends like that, you wouldn’t need enemies.