Yesterday Stella’s class went on their first field trip. This was a big damn deal, so when it came time to sign up, you better believe I signed up as a “parent volunteer” to go. This was also a golden opportunity for me to spend an entire day with the Harpy, observing her.
We loaded up for the roughly 1 hour and 20 minute drive to the Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch. I had no idea what Stella was going to want to do – whether she would want to sit with her square old mother or would want to sit with her classmates. I was allowed to sit with her. HOLY MOLY HAVE ANY OF YOU BEEN IN A BUS LATELY????? There is no leg room. Not at all. I couldn’t even sit upright with my knees pointing directly front. And then we had a big bulging backpack with our lunches and drinks. Think of the worst flight you’ve ever been on and decrease your leg room by 40% and increase the size of your carry on luggage by 25%.
Anyway. My kid was so excited. All of the kids were. Many of the parents chose to ride in their own cars, but there were a handful of us that braved the bus. 2 little boys were in the seat in front of us, and one of them – a sweet little black boy named after one of the Chipmunks – adored Stella. He kept professing his love for her and informing me that she was invited to his slumber birthday party (oh really?) but that Stella would have a good time, since he’d have “girl ice cream” available. It was cute.
Then something happened. For some reason I had pocketed a pack of post-it notes on my way out of the house. Stella was doodling on them in typical kid fashion. She’d write or draw a few little things, then give me the used post-it in favor for fresh paper. I started folding paper cranes – something very difficult to do on small paper with adhesive in a moving vehicle with no major flat surface to work on.
I became a parental celebrity. Every kid wanted a crane. I folded as many as I could on the way there and had to promise I’d make more on the way home. Stella’s boyfriend wanted piles of them. Who knew my origami problem would pay off? Stella had the “cool mom” who made the neat birds. On the way home, I think this irritated the Harpy, as the birds kept “taking flight” in the wind rushing in the open bus windows, causing their owners to leave their seat in the scramble to catch them. Even better.
The gator farm was cool. I learned a lot. We handled loads of babies and smaller adolescents. Stella and her little people did really well, only unraveling a bit as the tour went way overtime into their lunch hour. Those poor kids were starving.
I’m so glad I went. My daughter had the best day, and it did my heart so good to see that. I also feel so much better seeing that her classmates really do like her. I got the sense that they recognize that she’s a little different, but she seems to be accepted and loved anyway. The little shit that’s been giving her problems has apparently been identified by one and all as a mean kid; I don’t think the other kids will follow his lead or even tolerate his behavior.
And after a day with the Harpy? Yep, she’s a Harpy. But she’s a Harpy to every kid. There was another teacher there that I wish like hell could be Stella’s, particularly after we got placed in her group. She was kind, patient, and was obviously aware of which kids needed a little extra supervision or support and she made sure they got it without being overbearing or belittling anyone.
At the end of it all, I’m so grateful for yesterday. I feel more peaceful sending my daughter to school today – more peaceful than I’ve ever felt since she started school. Our struggles aren’t over; today could be a rotten day full of red dots. But I know my daughter has friends. And I’ll do my best to help. I’m already getting on Pinterest so I can pimp our snacks the next time it’s our turn to bring them, and origami crane name tags never hurt, either!