September 6, 2013

Sing to me, Miranda!

Him and I were raised with very different backgrounds.  Him was brought up going to church every Sunday; he attended a Christian school all the way through high school.  I was moved around so much becoming a member at a church was pointless and church every Sunday was undoable because sometimes my mom worked Sunday. Also, I am very much a product of the public school system.  To be honest, my high school may as well have been a prep school but it was just a ritzy public school.  Him and I have talked numerous times about which way we were leaning for Daughter's education.  He was intent on a Christian school.  I was impartial.  When Him showed me a school he was looking at had a Spanish Immersion program, the thought of Daughter being truly bilingual by graduation sounded awesome.  So, the decision was made and Daughter was enrolled in a Christian preschool.

I was asked by a few friends, when they were informed about our decision, how I was going to deal with it.  Apparently, I was not the typical mother of a child that would attend this school.  The mothers are known to be a little conservative, I am not.  They all dress a certain way and have their makeup and hair done perfectly to pick their children up from school, jeans is about as dressed up as I get and a ponytail is my hair "being done up", sometimes, my hair doesn't even see a comb.  They are all said to be social and corporate climbers with true superiority complexes, I'm a bartender turned stay-at-home mom that doesn't see anyone as superior or inferior cuz well...why?  They fit a mold that I would break a thousand times over.  While the Pistol Annies song Bad Example "Somebody had to set a bad example...Teach all the prim and propers what not to do..." ran through my head, I said, "When have I ever worried about fitting in?"

Daughter had her "meet the teacher" day or preschool orientation this past Wednesday.  It was interesting and I left feeling a little unsure.  Daughter was excited and can't wait until Monday when she starts going to school for real.  I had too many Miranda Lambert/Pistol Annies songs playing in my head throughout the experience to know exactly where my feelings would land.

We showed up early because I'm one of those people who, if it's important, I'd much rather be early than on time.  We pulled into the parking lot in our '01, dirt covered, slightly rusted, rather loud GMC pickup and parked in a lot filled with new, shiny, clean, varying models of minivans and SUVs.  I stopped in the office because none of the paperwork I had received told us where we needed to go.  The office lady was preoccupied and rather distractedly told me I would see a table in the hallway.  This was oh so helpful since there was more than one hallway and there was no table in any of them.  I found some lady with a school badge on and asked her where we needed to go and was informed that they hadn't set up the table to receive us yet because the teachers were at lunch but she pointed me in the direction of what was to be my daughter's classroom.  So, Daughter and I headed that way and saw where her name was on the wall above a hook where she would put her backpack and I showed her where her name was on a board standing in front of her to-be classroom.  Daughter's teacher soon showed up and informed us that there was a table being set up right down the hall where they would be taking our paperwork.  We started that way and a few more mothers were heading to the table with their children.  We turned in our paperwork with no issues and headed toward Daughter's classroom again.

We stopped in front of the classroom where it seemed we were to make name tags for ourselves.  I watched the little girl in front of us write out her own name on her name tag.  Daughter can't write her own name yet.  It was our turn so I had Daughter write out the first letter of her name because that she can do, even if it's sloppy kid writing, I told her good job and I finished her name tag for her.  We stepped back and went about attaching our name tags to our shirts.  The next mother/child duo stepped up to write out their name tags.  The mother stood back and let her daughter write out her name in sloppy kid writing.  The mother grabbed the name tag her daughter had just written out, crumpled it in her fist, turned to her daughter and said, "Write it pretty," in a very stern voice.  I was still figuring out how I felt about everything else and it was a good thing Daughter was standing right there because what went through my head was how much I wanted to slap that woman to her knees and hug her daughter.

When we walked into the classroom, there were several Mother/Child duos going about differing activities so Daughter and I started looking around.  I showed her this rug on the floor that had the English and Spanish words for different colors and numbers.  The teacher's assistant walked over to us and showed us a board where we could put Daughter's name and birthday on a construction paper cupcake so we did that and stapled it up on the board.  Daughter found some blocks and started playing.  I noticed several duos at the small table working on something.  Come to find out we were supposed to be making a placemat with Daughter's picture and name on it.  So we go over there and there was glue and paper and stickers and no clear instruction as to what we were doing.  I turned to the mother seated next to me and asked what we were supposed to be doing.  She spoke overly quiet, to the point that I could not hear her and handed me a laminated page.  I had no idea what she said so I accepted the page without looking at it and said, "What?"  The response was a harsh, more vocalized, "I'm just trying to tell you what you're SUPPOSED to be doing here."  And sweet!  Apparently Daughter's placemat was supposed to look like this laminated page.  So I set about helping Daughter get glue and scissors and stickers and all the while being sized up by all the mothers.  As I just now started looking about at the other women I noted I was the only one in jeans.  All the other mothers were in skirts, dresses, slacks.  I was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt.  All the other mothers were wearing polos or blouses.  I looked about at the other children and no one little girl was wearing anything other than a dress...except my daughter in shorts and a tank top.   In my head, Miranda Lambert's All Kinds of Kinds played, "Ever since the beginning, to keep this world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds."  Soon after we finished Daughter's placemat, a little chime-bell rang.  We were informed by the teacher that this meant time to freeze and listen.  The kids were called to the English/Spanish rug and the teachers sang a couple of songs in Spanish, encouraging the kids and mothers to sing along.  When the songs were finished the teacher's assistant was going to read a story to the kids and the mothers were called into the hallway with the teacher.

I stepped into the hallway and stood between two other mothers.  The teacher came into the hallway and informed us that we should have already picked up a folder above our child's backpack hook.  One other mother and myself had not been up to date with this so we went and grabbed our folders.  Upon opening this folder I found why we should have already had them.  Inside was an explanation of what would be done that day including an explanation of the placemat, the cupcake and the chime-bell.  Being told to grab this before entering the classroom woulda been helpful!  The teacher started going through the folder paper by paper.  Honestly, I kinda half listened cuz well, I can read at home.  Miranda's song Heart Like Mine pounded in my head "I heard Jesus, he drank wine and I think we'd get along just fine....And I bet he'd understand a heart like mine."  I took in my surroundings again and noted I looked young.  I believe most of the mothers around me were about my age but they looked like climbing the social and corporate ladders had left them tired and worn.  I come from a line where my 60 year old mom looks 40 and my sister, at about 35, was mistaken for a high school student when picking up her own 15 year old son.  I have many times been told I look at least 10 years younger than I am.  So, the disapproving looks from the other mothers may have been for my inappropriate age, in their eyes, or for my inappropriate clothing, in their eyes.  Whichever it was, I was under scrutiny and was found to be lacking (in their eyes!).

I was left feeling very out of place.  I drink, I swear, I have tattoos, I don't try to impress anyone, I go about making myself and my family happy, I became a stay-at-home mom because that's what made me smile most.  I don't like feeling judged based on what I do to make me happy when I'm not harming anyone.  I'm not actually hurting any of them in any way but I guess I am disrupting what they see as their "perfect" world.  I believe if being a social and corporate climber brings a smile to your face, so be it; if wearing blouses and slacks makes you happy, I'm fine with that; if you want to have the nicest, the best, the prettiest of everything and that actually makes your soul sing, have at it.  I also believe though that just because my happy looks different than your's, I'm not actually lacking, I'm just different.

I believe my sister may have put it best when I called her venting my frustrations and she said, "You need to remember some of those so-called Christians would turn their nose up if they met Jesus today.  If a father had walked in with long hair, a beard and ratty clothes holding a child's hand, they would've looked at him the same way they did you today."

And two lines from Pistol Annies Hush, Hush came to mind.  The first was, "Since everybody here hates everybody here, hell, I might as well be the joke. I'm gonna dance upon the table singing this little light of mine. God gave it to me, what good's it gonna do me if I don't, by God, let it shine!"  No, I did not jump up on a table and belt out "This Little Light of Mine" but thinking about it made me smile while I was being viewed as a joke.

The second line is, "Hide your tattoos, put on your Sunday best, pretend you're not a mess, be the happy family in the front pew!"  I don't apologize for who I am, I don't hide who I am and I won't hold back later if push comes to shove.

People will disapprove of you if you're unhappy, or if you're happy in The Wrong Way.  ~Mignon McLaughlin

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