“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bye-Bye, Baby

I have avoided blogging in the last few weeks because I've begun my fourth month of my third pregnancy and it is following the pattern of my first pregnancy, which is to say, I'm a little crazy. I don't really trust myself to communicate the written word properly right now, and even if I'm feeling verbose I have nothing very nice to say. So as you can see, blogging seems like a bad idea.

But here I am. I'm going to preface today's story with a warning, which is that I know my husband Joe is going to be really unhappy with me for sharing this, but I'm pretty fired up about it and also, it's been my first moment of clear and normal thinking in quite some time. So. Without further ado (though it's definitely MUCH ado about nothing...)...

For quite some time, I have been plagued with the judgmental opinions of friends and outsiders because we have made the choice to send our children to a private, Catholic elementary school. If you are like the folks who have a problem with this, you are probably clutching your chest, gasping out, "My God, woman! What are you thinking?!" And the hard part for me is, for some inexplicable reason, it's okay for you to react that way to my choice, but it's not okay for me to feel offended by it.

For the record, I am.

Anyway, that's not really the point of this blog. The point is that my husband and I made the choice we thought was best for our family (which, by the by, makes it nobody's business to judge, since they aren't actually IN our family and can't possibly be in a position to make any sort of call on what is best for us or our children), and are quite happy with it. Both of our children love school and do very well.  Upon Joey starting kindergarten, and even when he was in preschool, I, as a burned out, angry teacher who only wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, had sworn I wouldn't be an active, involved "school parent." But you know what? I love our school so much I haven't been able to help it. And I think my kids are happier and more successful because of it. There's nothing quite like a kid who knows his parents and his teachers are all on the same page.

So here I am, going along all hunky-dory like, but feeling kind of sad because I know next year things will be a little different. I won't be a stay-at-home mom anymore. If that's not a hard enough change, I'm having a baby in October, which will make being present at my kids' school any day for any reason nearly impossible (for a lot of reasons I won't get into here; just take my word for it). So I'm sad. And while Noah has been at Joey's school this year, it's only been for preschool, so I also know I have to register my baby boy for kindergarten. That's kind of a big deal, you know? I can't help but look at him and see those round cheeks and remember his funny, leggy run from before he was even two years old. I can still picture him with the baby curls that invited strangers at stores to tell me how beautiful my daughter was (Hello, first haircut!), and hear his tiny voice calling, "Mama!" from his cribby when he woke. And he's starting kindergarten? How did that happen?

Well, I registered him. And it was pretty painless, but then I had to go a step further. I had to sign him up to take the BUS. Ugh, the bus! I hated taking the bus when I was a kid. HATED it. Remember those horrifying moments when the bus driver (formally named "Bus Driver" every time) would pull off the road because someone was in trouble? The loud brake would shout, "KSSHHHHHT!" and Bus Driver would--wait for it-- get up and stand in the aisle. For several long moments I couldn't even concentrate on who was in trouble for what because I was so shocked that the bus driver was anything more than a floating head in a rearview mirror. He had arms and legs and wore jeans. My goodness. So shocking.

These memories haunt me, so that signing Joey up for the bus back when he was in kindergarten was tough enough, but now my baby Noah? Well, I'm going to tell you, I delayed the process. I know, it's not bad. Nothing traumatic happened to Joey yet (well, there were a few incidents I'm not happy about but I don't think he's permanently scarred), and next year Noah won't even have to do this rite of passage alone. He'll have his protective older brother to show him the way.

Then recently, a friend and fellow mom happened to mention the bus situation to me, since our sons will be starting kindergarten together next year. "Just a head's up," she said. "There's a new policy for the bussing." Oh, that's just super. But it prompted to get on top of things and call the bus garage to refresh myself on what documentation was needed and when was a good time to come in and take care of the bus paperwork. And then I found out my friend was right. Do you know what they told me? "Joey's all set, but Noah you'll have to sign up at the district office. You have to register him for kindergarten."


"No, no," I said. "You're mistaken. My children are already registered at their school. I just need the bus."

"No, no," they said back to me. "It's standard policy. He has to be registered to start school with the school district before he can sign up for the bus."

Does this seem odd to anyone else? That I have to register my child for school in two separate places? And one of them at a school which he will not attend? Like, ever? Okay, so I'm irritated to say the least. But I call and make an appointment (oh, yeah, because you can't just go when it's convenient for you, no, you have to call a number nobody answers most of the time, until you reach someone, and then they tell you when you can come) because they've got me in a tough position, don't they? I've made this choice, this shocking choice, to not send my children to public school, and on top of it, I need a bus.

The appointment was for this morning. Just to remind you, I'm already annoyed, right? Well, I started gathering together the papers I needed. Proof of residency, driver's license. And since I was "registering" Noah for kindergarten, I also needed his original birth certificate. Annoying, but no problem! I know just where we keep that. I headed to our special Safe Place For Important Documents, opened it up, and found...Joey's birth certificate. Our marriage certificate. A letter from my mom from when I was young about how I'm beautiful and she loves me best. The newspaper announcement from our wedding. But Noah's birth certificate? Totally not there.

I decide not to panic. I go through the files again and again, but it's just not there. I take a deep breath. I go through all our mail and miscellany. Nope. I think hard. When was the last time we needed it? We went to Canada last summer, but it would have been with Joey's. No, no. And then I remembered. Last January, Joe needed it to sign Noah up for baseball at the town. Joe had it last.

Joe was on his way to a big meeting, but I knew it hadn't started yet. I called him. "Did you use Noah's birth certificate to sign him up for baseball?" I asked.


I took a deep breath. A wife never wants to sound accusational, but I knew that was the last time we saw the birth certificate. But also...remember how I said that since I'm pregnant, nothing I ever say comes out nice? Yeah.

"Do you happen to know where that went?" I asked then. But since I'm pregnant and I have perception...issues, it probably came out like, "Well where the hell is it NOW? I need it!" (Although I swear I don't remember sounding that way.)

But then Joe got all snooty. Ever the patient and loving husband, he suddenly decided to point out that maybe I have this slight (slight) tendency to lose things. Maybe I'm a little scatterbrained. But this? Our child's birth certificate? I had this really strong feeling I didn't lose it. In fact, I felt positive I hadn't seen it since I'd handed it to Joe the night he signed Noah up for baseball.

"I can only think of three things," he said finally. "It's either in the file where it belongs, I gave it to you and who knows what, or it's with the mail in the kitchen." (Do you like how he slipped that one about it being my fault in the middle of two other, more innocuous things?)

Of course, I'd already checked all those places ten times.

"Thank you," I said politely, and we had an amicable hangup. (Sure we did.)

Well, in these sorts of situations, there's only one thing to do. Pray to St. Anthony, the finder of lost things. And after much scrambling about, guess where good ol' Tony led me? Straight to Joe's winter coat. And guess what I found in the inside breast pocket?

Noah's birth certificate.


So, as I said in the beginning, after much ado about nothing, I headed to the district office and went through needless paperwork to sign away my child's babyhood. Thank you, town, thank you, husband, for making an already heart-pinching process more memorable. I assure you, I'll never forget this one.

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