“Oh crap,” I said as I parked the car in the school parking lot. We were there for Tommy’s Back to School night so he could meet his new teacher.
I peered down at my flip flops and saw it. The hairs. On my big toe. Normally I remember to shave my toes because fine, I’m hairy. My Mom would always embrace me when I’d bemoan this fact and say in a singsong voice, “We’re just a hirsute family!”
Let me tell you, it’s not easy to be hirsute during the summer. You have to constantly check to make sure you aren’t sprouting hair in places that are frowned upon for women. Like toes. Oh sure, it’s perfectly acceptable for guys to sport jungle feet but if a woman does it then it obviously means she doesn’t love herself enough or something.
This just isn’t true for me.
No, my problem was that I forgot because I’ve been under stress thanks to the upcoming move to Montana.
“What happened, Mommy?” Tommy asked from the backseat.
“I have hairy toes!” I moaned, throwing my hands in the air.
Tommy blinked at me. Since he’s a boy, he’s allowed to have hair wherever he wants so he didn’t understand.
I started to worry that Tommy would be mocked for having a Hairy Mommy.
“Was that a caterpillar on your Mom’s feet?” I pictured his friends taunting.
I mean, the hair wasn’t that thick. It was just a couple of strands. But still. Not attractive. I suddenly had the bright idea that I could pluck them out but when I reached down to try, I only managed to curl one when I tugged at it.
They weren’t budging.
“Why don’t I carry a razor with me?” I muttered, digging through my purse as though my Venus razor was going to magically pop up. Really, I carry so much crap in my purse so why SHOULDN’T my razor be in there?
“Can we go in now?” Tommy begged, getting antsy. He shifted in his seat with his school supplies sitting on his lap.
I sighed. “I guess so. There’s nothing I can do about my feet now.”
We walked in the school and I longed to shield my toes as we stood in line to find out who Tommy’s teacher would be. I mean, I knew everyone would be busy inside, perhaps even too busy to look at my hairy feet, but I do know there are some women who give The Once Over which is basically a quick scan from head to toe. I never bother with it because I’m not into fashion. But there are ladies who are and I’ve noticed them giving me The Once Over and usually they wrinkle their noses slightly because I’m usually clad in a t-shirt with a funny saying (Like my Happy Bunny “Boys are Funny when they try to think”) and Mudd jeans that I picked up from the Juniors Department.
Everyone at the school knows who Tommy is. I’d like to say it’s because he’s such a great kid. But really, it’s because he threw horrible fits in Kindergarten. No one knew what was going on with him. The school called me on a weekly basis to the point where I’d begin to dread the ringing of the telephone. I attended more meetings than I care to remember. It’s not easy sitting there surrounded by a bunch of professionals who are telling you that something is wrong with your kid.
It turns out Tommy has Asperger’s Syndrome which is a form of autism. That’s topped off with Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD. He’s a great kid but if there is too much going on in his world, he shuts down which is what happened in Kindergarten. He’s doing much better now because he’s pulled out into the Resource Room for Reading and Math where he was able to thrive.
So yes, this is why everyone knows who Tommy is. And I mean everyone down to the cafeteria lady. This is another reason why I’m upset that we’re moving. Everyone knows how Tommy works here. When we get to the new school we have to go through that all over again.
We went down to Tommy’s classroom and the teacher automatically knew who Tommy was.
“Hi Tommy!” she said cheerfully.
Tommy looked at his feet. “Hi,” he mumbled.
“How was your summer?” she asked.
“Good.” (He said to the ground.)
“What did you do?”
“Um…I went to the…the…beach,” Tommy said, still looking down.
“Tommy. Eyes,” I reminded him gently. Sometimes he forgets all about eye contact and will have an entire conversation with his feet.
Tommy obligingly looked his teacher in the eye but his lips twisted in a way that told me he was uncomfortable. I don’t blame him. I don’t really like looking people in the eyes either. I usually speak to a person’s shoulder because the second I look into another person’s eyes, I get this bubble in the pit of my stomach. I’m 27 and I still have to tell my own self, “Amber. Eyes.”
“Well, if you can just fill this form out and Tommy, can you find your cubby and your desk?” the teacher instructed.
Tommy nodded shyly and started to look at the row of cubbies. “Found it!” he said, pointing to his name.
I filled out the paperwork and tried to hide my hairy toes. I didn’t want the teacher to think, “Okay, how can I remember all these parent’s names? Okay, right, Amber was the one with the hairy feet. The Hairy Feet Mom is Amber.”
Then the next time we meet she’ll be all, “Hi Hairy Fee—I mean, Amber!”
I hate being hirsute!
“I found my desk, Mommy,” Tommy said, settling down in the seat. But then he wrinkled his nose at the sign on it. “Mommy, it says Thomas. I’m not Thomas, I’m Tommy.”
“That’s because the teachers want you to be able to spell Thomas,” I explained.
Tommy sighed. “I do! It’s T-H-O-M-A-S!”
“Well, Thomas is your given name. Maybe when you’re older you’ll want to be called Thomas,” I tried again.
Tommy made a face as though I had just let out a loud fart. “No way! I’m Tommy!”
“Well, you know, Thomas Jefferson liked the name Thomas,” I reminded him. We’ve been studying the Presidents over the summer. He still can’t believe that someone shot Abraham Lincoln or that someone was actually called Rutherford.
“Mommy? Where’s my seat?” Natalie wondered beside me. She looked downright insulted that she didn’t have her own desk.
I squatted down to her level. “Well, you don’t have a seat because this isn’t your classroom,” I said gently.
Natalie stomped her foot. “Where MY desk?” she demanded.
“Sweetie, I just told you. You don’t have a desk because this isn’t your classroom,” I repeated.
Natalie started to cry. “Where MY desk?” she sobbed pitifully.
She so wants to go to school. When she turns 3 I’m going to see about enrolling her in preschool two times a week.
Natalie was still pouting as I picked her up and walked around the room.
“Me! Me!” Natalie suddenly shrieked, waving her finger wildly.
I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought she still wanted a desk so I stroked her head and said soothingly, “I know.”
“Me! ME!” Natalie said again.
I followed her finger and realized she was pointing to a desk that had Natalie written on it.
“Well, that’s not really your desk,” I said thinking to myself, “Holy crap, my kid is a genius!” (Even though she totally likes putting her mini potty on her head but let’s forget about that…)
“Natalie! Natalie!” Natalie practically screamed.
After that we were able to walk around the school. I did that even though Tommy knows where everything is. Everyone kept saying hi to him and I’d just softly remind him about his eyes.
“You feel comfortable about school?” I asked Tommy before we left.
He nodded. “I’m all ready!”
So we walked out to the parking lot, which was a total zoo. People were making up their own parking spots because there were no spaces left. Getting out was horrible—I tend to break down in difficult situations and I tried not to burst into tears when I tried to back out of my spot. This truck had just parked haphazardly behind me so it didn’t give me a lot of space to get out. Then there was a car who wanted my spot and the lady kept gesturing to me to hurry up which made me want to give her the finger but I didn’t because I had kids in the backseat.
I eventually made it out and rewarded myself with Burger King.
“Second grade is tomorrow!” Tommy said happily.
“Yup. Second grade is tomorrow.” I looked in the rearview mirror at my baby boy who isn’t really a baby anymore and sighed. “Second grade,” I said softly. “Please be good to my boy…”