My son Tommy goes to something called Language Lab in the afternoons. It’s a place that helps him with his speech. Sometimes he doesn’t pronounce things clearly enough. I understand him almost all the time but that’s because he came from my uterus. Anyhow, they were having a Presentation Day and parents were invited to come.
Natalie was thrilled to see her brother. The second we walked in the classroom she yanked her hand from mine and rushed to Tommy.
“Bruh-dder!” she shrieked. “Bruh-dder!”
Tommy was sitting in a row with his other classmates—Language Lab has about 7 other students in it. He looked a little embarrassed when Natalie hurled her tiny body at his chest. He sort of patted her hair and muttered out a hello. He loves his sister, I know he does, but he never seems overly thrilled with her. He claims she’s too loud which is amusing to me because Tommy has also been blessed with a fantastic set of lungs.
“Tommy’s Mom!” a familiar voice shrieked.
The voice belonged to Blake, the annoying kid who lives on our street and can’t take no for an answer. He’s always at our door and he once tattled on Tommy for jump roping. He looked all serious with his bug eyes as he said, “Could you tell Tommy to stop jump roping? I don’t like it.”
Plus, the kid always calls me Tommy’s Mom even though I’ve asked him to call me Amber. I guess I should tell him to call me Miss Amber but Miss Amber reminds me of an old lady who makes cheese.
“Tommy’s Mooooom!” Blake’s irritating voice called out again. “It’s me! Blake!” He waved his arm in the air as though I completely forgot who he was.
Sorry Blake. I don’t have that kind of luck.
“Tommy’s Mom!” Blake continued and I debated taking off my sock and stuffing it in his mouth.
I forced a smile and waved hello as I picked up Natalie and took a seat behind Tommy.
“You could sit behind ME, Tommy’s Mom,” Blake said grandly as though this were a huge prize.
The forced smile remained on my face. My cheeks started to hurt. “Actually,” I said in what I hoped was a polite voice. “I’m going to sit behind Tommy.”
Blake looked confused. He’s the only kid I know who wouldn’t comprehend that line.
“Why?” he wondered.
Because Tommy came out of my crotch and you didn’t! I wanted to snap.
Instead I said, “Because Tommy is my son.” And praise Jesus that you aren’t.
Blake opened his mouth to say something else but I leaned over to Tommy and quickly asked how he was doing.
Tommy shrugged. “Fine.” Then his face brightened. “I get to read the slide first!”
Huh? Read what slide?
Then I realize that there was a slide show set up front with the title “We Love Fruits and Vegetables!” on the front.
What in the world was this teacher teaching the students?
But is it wrong that I counted how many students there were (8) and then started wondering how long they would be reading for? No offense but watching kids read is about as fun as scrubbing limescale off the bathtub. Plus I wasn’t sure if Natalie would sit through that.
A few more parents filtered in and then the teacher clapped her hands and said it was time to begin.
Tommy instantly jumped from his seat and marched up to the front of the room and boldly took the microphone. He read easily from the slide about liking broccoli, cauliflower and some other vegetable that eludes me but I can assure you tastes like feet. Then he talked about growing stuff in a garden when we lived in England and I had no idea what he was talking about. What garden? What universe would I have a garden? Did the poor guy mistake that hunk of dirt that grew absolutely nothing for a garden?
Still, I watched him proudly and was surprised that he didn’t even seem shy being in front of the class. When I was in school and had to talk in front of the class I’d panic and would practically break out into hives. But Tommy acted like it was no big deal and only stumbled over one word (scrumptious which is not a word I’d use to describe broccoli.....)
When he was finished it got boring. I tried to look interested as a kid talked about how delicious tomatoes were.
I started to daydream.
Lalala....chocolate....cake....buttercream frosting....LITTLE DEBBIE SNACK CAKES.....
Then I’d come to when Natalie would slide off her chair and try to escape. So I’d grab the back of her shirt and pull her to me and start daydreaming again.
Ice cream....Zero bars...John Krasinski....Reeses Peanut Butter Cups....isn’t it ironic that I’m thinking about junk food when the class is talking about fruits and vegetables? I must be a messed up adult.
When the fifth kid started to read my eyes started to grow heavy. The room was dark and I just couldn’t muster the interest to focus on a love story about carrots. And some kids read incredibly slow. Like this: carrots.......are.......delicious......and......orange.....
When the last kid finished reading I started clapping enthusiastically and realized no one else was clapping.
Then the kids moved onto a play entitled Fast Food Gulp Gulp. I got excited and started to think, Finally, a play that doesn’t bash fast food! Obviously I get that fast food is greasy and disgusting but if you eat it in moderation it’s not so bad.
This is Tommy reciting his lines. He was a customer ordering a delicious burger. The hat made me think of Crocodile Dundee.
But then as the play continued it turned out that the moral WAS that fast food was disgusting and will give you a stomach ache.
Then the restaurant that was once serving delicious pizza and burgers and chicken turned into a health food joint.
Blah. It was probably one of those types that blend up grass and roots to cleanse your system. I'm sorry but I will NEVER drink grass and roots. My system will just be forever messed up.
This is Tommy checking out the health food place. He seemed as baffled as I was and looked like he wanted to ask, "Um, where'd the burgers go?"
After the play was over it was time to pass out reading awards.
Tommy read the second most books in the class. He read a total of 56 books. This one kid read over 200 and I think he was totally lying. Please. It was on the tip of my tongue to shout, "LIAR!" when he went up to get his award but I did not.
And then when that was over it was time for refreshments.
Guess what was out?
You guessed it.
Fruits and vegetables.
You know, when I was growing up I remember cupcakes and cookies at these sort of occasions. But then you have the parents that whine and complain about health food and they spoil it for the rest of us. Sure, have your fruits and vegetables but don't skip out on the cupcakes or the cookies!
Now, there were some cookies up there but they were the granola kind with raisins. I'm a firm believer of the law that says that you do NOT put raisins in cookies.
Tommy and Natalie both wanted brocolli (!) and I nibbled on some tomatoes and pretended it was a hunk of chocolate.
Then after that it was over. The kids had prepared some plants and the teacher handed me Tommy's plant.
"It still has to harden and it still needs to be cared for a few days," she told me.
Huh? Harden. CARED FOR? Does she not get that I KILL plants? Not on purpose, mind you, but I've never been able to keep one alive for more than a few days.
I gave her a blank look and said, "So...I water it?"
She gave me a perplexed look and went, "Yes...." as though she were speaking to a complete idiot.
I held the tiny plant that was in a decorated cup for a few seconds and then forced a smile on my face.
"Great!" I said and hoped that I sounded excited. "I'll...er...take great care of this!" I twirled the cup in the air and nearly dropped it. The teacher sucked in her breath sharply.
"Mommy. Let ME hold it. You'll BREAK it," Tommy lectured, taking his beloved plant from me.
I grabbed Tommy's backpack and thanked the teacher and was about to head out the door when Blake the World's Most Annoying Kid called out to me.
I was tempted to keep going and pretend that I hadn't heard him. But Blake's parents were there and I didn't want them to think I was a total kid hater. So I stopped, turned around and gave him another forced grin.
"Do you want to see the picture I made?" Blake wondered hopefully. He had a picture in his hands and actually, I DIDN'T want to see the picture he made but instead I nodded.
He turned the picture around and I couldn't quite make out what it was. It looked like a blob. With eyes and, what in the world...horns? Thankfully I speak parent and I know exactly what to say when you don't know what a kid has drawn.
"It's lovely. TELL me about it!"
See, you always have to say tell me about it because if you go, "What in the CRAP is that?" you'll insult the artist and then they might cry and then you'll feel bad so trust me, it's just easier to ask them about the picture.
Of course, if the kid is as annoying as Blake you might be sitting there for ten minutes as he explains every.single.detail.
"And this is his eyeball for him to, you know see. This is grass down here for him to, you know, eat..."
Thankfully I've been blessed with an impatient two-year-old so Natalie shrieked and pointed to the door.
"GO HOME!" she boomed.
I pretended to be all sad that I wasn't able to sit through Blake's explanation of his creature's digestive tracts but in reality I was all, "Oh bless you, Natalie. Bless you."
Tommy now has two weeks of school left. I'm a little afraid. It means I'll probably have to see Blake on a daily basis.