Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Old patterns die hard

Noelle started kindergarten at the local public school this year (yes, pictures are coming, I swear!) and last night was her back to school night. Dyl and I had attended every single back to school night and parent-teacher conference offered at her daycare-preschool because we are concerned and involved parents who really just wanted to hear (again) how awesome our daughter was (and she is. Awesome.) so we figured, 'ain't no thang', just roll on in and that will be that.  What neither of us suspected was that long buried insecurities would raise their heads upon treading those hallowed halls of glue sticks and crayons.

As I had been the one to take Noelle to her orientation(s), it made sense for me to attend seeing as I (theoretically) would have a better idea of where to go. After scarfing down my dinner of roasted garlic hummus with crackers (foreshadowing!) and shotgunning a Pepsi, into the elementary school I strolled. Fortunately I did remember to change out of my work-clothes as khakis and a name-emblazoned polo shirt would just be too much fierceness for the community to handle. What I didn't allow time for was a shower because of course yesterday I would have been around the worst-smelling products that we could use. (Always. ALWAYS when I have to be around people.) Think sour roasted coffee deep fried with extra garlic (dun dun DUN) in an unconditioned school gym packed with people and an evening temperature of the balmy 85 degree variety and I cannot imagine why the other parents gave me such a wide berth. Which is to say that I was very much alone.

I can smell myself at the end of a particularly stankariffic day so I just assume that others can too. Maybe not but that thought was what I clung to as I perched on my seat, watching the other parents locate friends and neighbors from previous years. As the sea of jocularity and familiarity swirled around me, I felt so very very isolated but in a way, I do it to myself. I didn't make eye contact but continuously swept the crowd with my eyes, not looking for anyone or anything but to be aware. I busied myself reading the agenda and the other papers I picked up, looking busy, hoping no one smelled me and bellowed into the gym, 'My GAWD, what is that SMELL?!' (It's me by the way. Hey, you wanna be friends?) No one did because I have the ability to become pretty much invisible and when I am noticed, I'd rather it be for my wit and general awesomeness and not for my gift of making a landfill envious.

So there it was, the dichotomy: I'm not at my best, so please, no one take notice juxtaposed with the wanting of someone, anyone to make contact in a sea of strangers. I was being ridiculous of course; my child is in kindergarten and doesn't really interact with any of the neighborhood kids as her preschool/daycare was across the county. Relationships aren't built overnight, it takes time. I know that. I also know that it wasn't about me; that it won't be about me again but about her. And helping her achieve her best not only in school but also socially so I swallowed my fear and insecurities and...volunteered. To join the PTA, to help with her class, anything to help ease her transition into this bright, scary, wonderful new world.

Huh. Well, what do you know? Those old habits may not have died but sure are on the ropes. I think that we'll do okay at this school thing Noelle; you and me both.

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