As much as The Kid grumbles about having to go to school, I suspect that secretly he is really enjoying it.
He has to whine every morning about wanting to stay home, and he creates little scenarios of reasons why he should get to stay home.
As he reclines on the sofa before loading up and moving out, he’ll keep an eye on the clock and as the time starts to draw near, he’ll start with the usual grind:
“No school today, Mom. Someone planted C-4 around the perimeter and just set it off....”
“Can’t do school today, Mom. The Germans just flew over and dropped some bombs on the cafeteria....”
“The teachers have come down with hantavirus and they’ve put up HazMat warnings all over school, Mom….”
And it’s not just one virtual-reality dreamscape, it’s usually about five or six. He starts in on it as I ignore his wild imaginings and motion for the sneakers to go on the feet, the lunch to go in the backpack, while pointing at my wrist at the invisible watch, scurrying back and forth to find another flip flop to wear so I can walk him down to the end of the street.
Getting him out the door and off to school is absolutely, without question, the most difficult part of my day.
Once he hits the crosswalk though, his demeanor totally changes. I see him morph into something else. Oh right ... he’s put on his “game face.”
Now that he’s gotten more acclimated to the new campus and all the new faces, there isn’t as much apprehension about having to go from one end of the campus to the other first thing in the morning.
I’ve stood with other moms, hiding behind parked cars, to watch our sons and daughters make that trek safely, and I could see where he would feel intimidated and totally out of place.
I see the brief little “whuddup” waves he gives as he passes through the gauntlet.
Once the trekkers reach the other side of the field, we all exhale.
Another morning of angst and apprehension is over for the five or six of us who nod to each other and part ways.
When the end of the school day arrives, I walk back down to the corner and stand in the shade of some big trees that give me good cover.
He doesn’t want anyone to know that I wait for him, so I try to camouflage. Even though we live on a short street, there is a lot of activity on the corner with the convenience store, auto repair shop and pizza joint. It’s all clean and sweet, but I still don’t trust anyone. One of my neighbors walked by one afternoon on his way to the Farmer’s Market and jokingly chided me for waiting for The Kid.
“He’s a big boy now! He can make it by himself!”
I said, “True enough, but you know ... I am a mother hen.”
He shook his head, laughing as he went on his way.
I lurked behind the dune buggy with the giraffe markings parked under the tree, which allowed full vision of the parking lot convenience store — the one he crosses through every day.
As he strolled through, turning around to see which of his classmates might be the ones making all noise inside the store, I slipped from my hiding spot and started back down toward the house. We usually meet up in the middle of the street, out of sight of any of his friends.
“What’s the dealio?” I ask.
“Nothin’. It was all right.”
“Mom, you wouldn’t believe the way the kids at school talk. It’s so annoying.”
“Like how? What do they say?”
“None of them use good grammar!”
“Like ... give me an example.”
“One of the girls said, ‘I din’t stole your pencil!’ and all of them, and I mean all of them, don’t say ‘tastes.’ They say it like two words ‘taste is’ but in one word ‘tasteis’... man, that drives me nuts! ‘That tasteis good!’”
“Didja ever think it’s because of their other language?”
“What do you mean?”
“FrijoLES, chiccaronES, cajonES ... maybe they’re just used to adding on that ‘es’ at the end. Like ‘tastES’...”.
He looked up at me and started grinning.
“Yeah. Maybe. That would make more sense. But it just sounds aggravating.”
Really funny coming from someone who hates to be corrected.
“By the way, I need your help studying tonight,” he announced.
What? Study? The Kid? Did I just hear that right?
“Help studying?” I said with the proper amount of shock in my voice.
“Yeah. I’ve got a TEST-ES tomorrow...”, he said, proud of his own joke.
“Hahaha...it looks different when you write it on paper.”
“Mmmmhmm. Totally different meaning.”
“T-e-s-t-e-s?” he asked, wrinkling up his nose.
“What does it mean?”
I looked at him sideways and he sounded it out.
“Si. Big difference between tastES and testES.”
“That just sounds disgusting now, Mom.”
“Si. But every time you hear them say it now, it will be funny and not aggravating.”
Cultural diversity at its finest.