Thursday, May 22, 2008

the joys of working with the young

On Tuesday I started entering into my daily routine after enduring a four day migraine. I still felt a bit shaky, but I had to do my weekly shift at the parent cooperative preschool (read: I couldn't figure out a way to get out of it which wasn't shameful, and I needed to get out of the house anyhow). As I was driving, I thought over and over, "I hope Jim does something quiet and easy today." (Jim is our iconic pre-k teacher. Despite having worked over 25 years at this same preschool, he still has plenty of energy and an Elvis-esque quiff).

As soon as I arrived, little Stella bounded up full of enthusiasm. "WE'RE GOING ON A GIANT HIKE!!"

I barely averted blurting out "Oh, fuck."

Later Jim informed us working parents that we would indeed be going on a nature hike in the Presidio. I said pathetically that I was just coming off a four day migraine and didn't know if I were up to it. With the nerves of steel and the intolerance for whining which have made him a major success in the preschool world, Jim said calmly, "Are you wearing good shoes for walking?"

As the afternoon of breaking up squabbles wore on, I felt more fragile, and I broke the school rules (Rule #4,972: Workday Parents May Not Make Phone Calls When They Are Supposed To Be Supervising The Children) to leave a series of increasingly imploring emails on the Sober Husband's voicemail, begging him to bail me out by leaving work early. He finally returned my call (provoking another rule violation, as the office manager had to leave her post to find me to call me to the phone) and promised to cab over. He arrived in the nick of time, as the children were being assigned to grownups (the only thing that saved him from missing the start of the hike was that a lengthy debate had been waged over how to assign the two most troublesome and argumentative children, as the random method had stuck one parent with both those little cherubs, which was patently unfair to the poor parent).

Later I drove back to collect the Sober Husband and Lucy. Everyone else trudged back from the field trip, but there was no sign of the Sober Husband and his little band of children. Finally, after school dismissal time, they appeared, looking a bit harried and stressed. The husband was quick to explain: one of his charges (a very athletic and energetic boy) had lain down in the street at a major intersection and refused to get up. He was unable to make this child stand up and walk and in the end carried this large child back to the school.

Another mother and I contemplated this. This mother, a calm and smiling woman who has an almost Buddha-like persona, said, "I would have screamed at him until he got up and walked. I just won't take any nonsense from these kids."

I concurred. "The lash of my viperous tongue would have driven him onwards," I said. There is nothing like a warmhearted, loving and calm stay-at-home mother when it comes to viciously effective scolding.


hughman said...

away from Doggyo? hoe courageous!

Missy said...

Hooray for the Sober Husband for stepping up and filling in. A hike with preschoolers would be one of Dante's Inferno levels for me, near the top, I believe.

hokgardner said...

Our little preschool is on the campus of the University of Texas, and every once in a while, my daughter's teacher gets a wild hair and takes us on an expedition to see some fountain or statute on campus. I dread those days.