F is for Fugly

Every time I drop my daughter off at school two things go through my head

  1. I’m freeeeeee!
  2. Wait, I don’t get to see what she does today?

For the first three years of her life I’ve been there for everything. To see every smile, giggle, cry, hair pull, and snart. Just so I’m not bombarded with a lot of people asking me what a snart is, here are a few definitions I found online

  1. Snart: to accidentally rip one when you sneeze
  2. Snart: …usually a result of the sudden abdominal muscle contractions associated with supporting the diaphragm for the sneeze, thus triggering the fart. (Oh, so that explains why I waited like 4 hours in the waiting room the other day for my doctor. Apparently she was busy writing the definition of snart.)
  3. Snart: the last name of a man who works at the college of DuPage as an Associate Professor. (I mean, seriously? If I had a professor with the name Snart I would have had a field day.)

But I monumentally digress. Like I was saying, I have always been right there with my daughter for every class, but then suddenly preschool comes along and I’m kicked out of the room. I try to linger when I drop her off to catch a tiny glimpse of how she acts there, but I can feel the teachers’ eyes stabbing me like daggers. They’re like those flight attendants at the end of a trip, smiling through gritted teeth and cheerfully saying, “BUH-bye,” when in their heads they’re really saying, “Get the fuck off my plane.”

Two hours and fifty-nine minutes later I’m back to pick up my daughter, my face smushed against the glass trying to get a glimpse of her as I wait for the door to be unlocked. Once I’m inside I look around the room to see if I can decipher what she’s been doing for the past three hours. The white board says guacamole/chips and the fish song. Hmmm, this doesn’t tell me much.

There’s a clothesline stretched across the room with artwork hanging from it. Crap, crap, ugly, crap, colorblind, wait a sec, there’s one in the middle that’s fabulous. I scan the names as stealthily as I can and look for my kid’s name. There it is. Four glorious letters—ZOEY. Does anyone else see this? Am I the only one who notices that my kid might be the next Picasso? Suddenly I feel great about leaving her here. Clearly this place is helping her blossom.

And then yesterday happened.

I’m picking up my future Picasso from school, again reading the white board because whenever I ask her how school was, the girl who usually talks so much it makes me want to cut my ears off suddenly develops the vocabulary of a caveman. Today the white board says guacamole/chips and the apple song. Hmmm. I scan the room and see the art project. Oh, look at all the beautiful Fall leaves they’ve painted in rich colors. Clearly the other kids are blossoming here too. I look at each leaf. Gorgeous, stunning, future-Monet, wait a sec, there’s one that’s shoved in the corner away from all the others so as not to depreciate the bunch. Who the hell did that one? Probably that kid with his pants tucked into his socks. And then I see the name on it. Those dreaded letters— ZOEY. There they are written on a white leaf that looks like a tiny bug threw up in the middle of it. And not in a cool minimalist kind of way. My daughter comes running over to me.

ZOEY: Mommy, that’s my leaf! Do you like it?

ME: Are you sad about something? Is something bothering you?

ZOEY: Can we hang it on the fridge?

ME: Absolutely. The fridge in the garage.

Of course I don’t really say these things out loud. On the outside I’m supportive and tell her how much I love it. Even though when we get home I’ll do what I always do with the lame-o pieces. When nobody’s looking I bury it in the trashcan under pieces of junk mail where she’ll hopefully never find it. The same thing I did with her dead goldfish, all the little Barbie shoes I was scared the kids would choke on, and the annoying musical birthday card that never ran out of batteries. Somewhere in a landfill far far away the cockroaches are doing the conga line to the maddening tune of the Macarena.

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