Back-to-school season is in full force, with its new schedules to be learned, its new equipment and supplies to be purchased, its new Sharpies for labeling every belonging imaginable. I am so darn weary right now, I can’t even think more than a day ahead. I wake up bleary looking at smudged notes I’ve scrawled on my hand the night before: SHARE KITTY OK? and ASK DID WE DO MGUARD RIGHT?
MGUARD: mouthguard. Elder daughter is trying field hockey. This is an OMG Mommy Moment: a field hockey player in the house? Not completely certain we DID DO MGUARD RIGHT, the gel horseshoe that gets boiled, then cooled, then pressed into her spiky teeth. We followed the directions, but not being an athletic star myself (or an athlete at all), I only have a dim recollection of how the mouthguard thing works, from my brief and pitiful attempt at college rugby.
S clamps it obediently in her jaws. “Twenty more seconds,” I say.
“Howwifahsapposstakkoomaiteemaze?” she replies, the dark waxy mouthguard protruding from her lips.
“How are you supposed to talk to your teammates through this?”
“Um, I have no idea. I guess you get good at it, eventually. Give it a try.”
“See? I totally got that. That was pretty bad-ass.”
“AHMM!” Her eyes widen.
“Well, excuse my French, but it is seriously bad-assity. Growling EAT GRASS through a big fat mouthguard? Wow. Okay. You can spit it out now.”
She does. I take it and plop it into its newly Sharpie-ed case. “Here you go, kid. Your first mouthguard.”
She flounces off, more floppy than field. When she was three and played a few weeks in a Y soccer league, she rarely paid attention to the ball. Instead, she would get distracted by buttercups and pick them, singing. She sometimes offered them to her coach, who seemed dismayed by her ability to tune out the game and her team. Now my dreamy older daughter will be wielding a gigantic stick and wearing wire-cage goggles and a mouthguard. I wonder if she actually will cause her opponents to EAT GRASS, rather than EAT BUTTERCUPS.
This should be interesting.
I like the surprises that come with parenthood. Field hockey, nope, didn’t see that coming.
SHARE KITTY OK? That’s younger daughter, and that’s no surprise. Her black cat, Moe, has grown from a shivering 5-week-old runt we found in a Wal-Mart parking lot into a massive, shiny, super-friendly mini-panther.
Still, I’m not sure how SHARE KITTY will work.
“Really? You want to bring Moe for your share?”
“Of COURSE,” H says.
“Um, but teachers freak out about peanut allergies. Won’t they freak out about cat allergies?”
“Maddie brought her cat and it was FINE,” H tells me patiently.
I ask her second-grade teacher about it. She is lovely and super-organized, like all of H’s teachers have been. SHARE KITTY OK?
“Yes, that’s fine,” she says, smiling.
“When IS H’s share, actually? I’m not sure what you’ve heard from the other teachers…her dad and I…we’re not always the most organized, but uh, we mean well. The two-household thing makes for a bit of chaos.”
“Her share is October 24th,” she says. “Want me to write it down?”
H’s teacher writes the SHARE KITTY OK? date on a Post-It and hands it to me. Grinning, she adds, “I wouldn’t worry about a little chaos. Your daughters are terrific. Don’t change a thing. Whatever you’re doing? It’s working.”
SHARE KITTY OK. MGUARD, PROBABLY OK. PARENTING DEF OK.
Hectic, but not a bad start to the year, not a bad start at all.