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As of today, I am the father of a school-aged child

Posted by doatmon on August 20, 2009

I’m the father of a school-age child.

That’s right, Kristen and others who repeatedly remark on my self-centeredness.  French Fry went to Kindergarten today.  And yet it’s still all about me.

I have a child in school.  I’m not going to lie to cyberspace.  Wasn’t handling it well.

Okay, okay, okay…let me start by saying that she’s fine.  Got it? No problems with her.  She is even more talkative than her father.  As beautiful as her mother.  And as intelligent as the two of us put together.  She was in an all-day preschool last year where she was a “peer model” for children who were developing at a slower rate.  She’s fine.

This is my blog and I’m going to talk about me.

This may shock you, but I’m not exactly an emotional rock.  I know, hard to believe.  But it’s true.  I bawled uncontrollably when Sidney was born.  Most sports movies leave me in a state of allergic agitation somewhere toward the end.  I am also a sucker for milestones.  And cameras.

“Look honey, she just spit out her first spoonful of peas. [snap]”

“Oooh, oooh, I think she just laughed for the first time. [snap]”

“Oops.  Nope.  Not a laugh.  But she just snorkeled for the first time. [snap]”

So if I react that way to those major/minor milestones, you can only imagine that the batteries literally died in the middle of the photo session this morning.

But my issues started well before this morning.  On the first day of daycare, back when I was employed, I remember strapping the little peanut into her car seat and heading the five miles to Enchanted Care.  Approximately 45 minutes later, I had stopped twice to re-adjust her fragile skull to ensure it was safe and twice to unzip her jacket further to ensure she continued to inhale and exhale appropriately.

I cried all the way downtown.

Then there was her acceptance into the preschool.  It was all-day for God’s sake.  Coke got to take her to school every day, but it was my privilege to pick her up every day at 3:30.  I all too often gave in to her wishes of McDonald’s nuggets and sweet teas because that quick drive-thru stop allowed me to pry details of her day while she was sugar-drunk and stuffed.

She was interviewed on Channel 10.  Her name was up in lights.  At the ripe age of four.  To this day, I’ve been only on TV twice.  Once was completely forgetting King and Jackson when interviewed on the names of the “Fab Five” by an Ann Arbor station at the Michigan-OSU game in Lexington.  The other, well, it was closed-circuit television.  And I was giving out handicapping advice.  Not something you want to share with your children.  I was so proud of the little devil I bugged one of my many media friends multiple times a day before she caved and sent me a CD of French Fry’s debut.  Thank you again, Lindsay.

Did you know the child actually had a graduation for pre-school?  There were songs, emotional videos and slideshows.  Processionals and recessionals.  And she tied Coke for most bunches of flowers purchased by me in the year 2009.  Damn that Columbus School for Girls and their budget cutbacks.  There was so much dust in that auditorium, my eyes wouldn’t stop watering.

And that brings us to this week.  I was somewhat prepared for today.  I had gone over it in my mind for weeks.  I had properly ignored her need for a first-day of school outfit.  I had sufficiently put off thinking about the logistics of today.  I had been able to successfully repress any memory of my mom’s opining on what I could expect.  See?  I was dealing well.

This week, I was ambushed by “Meet the Teacher” day.  I was not prepared.  The sickeningly sanitized smell of the school, the prowling PTO Nazis, the loudly, color-emblazoned bulletin boards accosting the eyes, I was overwhelmed.  Yes, she was fine, but remember, this is about me.

Coke, Chicken Nugget and French Fry strolled down the “Green” hallway to her classroom while I stalled, shuffled and stifled a sob.  Okay, there were a few sideways glances at the potential MILPs, I’m man enough to admit it.  But mostly, I was miserable.  Her teacher is brand new.  The school is relatively new.  Can they possibly comprehend the precious person now under their care?  Her old teachers did.  Maybe I could pay them to come be Assistants in this classroom.  I know, I know…stupid.  I’m WAY too broke to afford that.

Then there were the kids.  Some looked ornery.  Some looked like straight out of “Mean Girls 2020” casting.  One might have been an undercover cop.  I think I saw a beard.  Regardless, all were suspicious.  Judging the teacher, the staff, the kids and still trying to check-out the scrub-clad redhead who looked to have a little one about Chicken Nugget’s age.  If we hadn’t left, hyperventilation was imminent.

Last night, each well-wisher dialing our phone number almost put me over the edge.  I finally had to turn off the ringer in the den and fire up the computer.  I couldn’t deal.  This morning, I begrudgingly got up with Chicken Nugget. She helped make sister pancakes.  Just like my dad did for me.  We were dressed, showered and ready 45 minutes before it was time to walk over.  So we waited.  And we waited.  And I sweat.  And I tapped my foot.  And I bounced my knee.  And I checked Facebook.  And I drank coffee.  And I checked Facebook.

Then something happened I wasn’t even remotely prepared for.  I was at peace.  We walked her over as a family and joked and laughed and beamed at our “little” girl.  Her confidence, willingness and readiness put even a neurotic father on an even-keel.  She disappeared into the school, pink backpack covering everything but her shoes.  I waved goodbye to the backpack, gave Coke a knowing hug and was shocked to realize it was more for her than me.

Yes, this was another milestone.  One which was as visceral and painful as the others.  However, these milestones, they’re not my milestones.  They’re not about me.  They’re her milestones.  And I’m privileged to witness them.  And to share them.

I’m the father of a school-aged child.  I couldn’t be more proud.

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3 Responses to “As of today, I am the father of a school-aged child”

  1. Okay, I’m a dumbass. I’ll admit it. What on earth is a MILP? I know the term Milf, but an not familiar with that term. Also, I like your little blog and the voice you give it. Keep in contact.

    • doatmon said

      You’re not a dumbass. I’m the dumbass for not including the link to the definitions. It’s “Mom-I’d-Like-to-Playdate.” Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Kristen said

    Always all about you. Can’t imagine it any other way.
    Wait, please tell me I at least make the MILP list? 🙂

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