What wasn't cliche, were my fears of her heading off to school. Whereas most mothers are concerned that their little girl won't be able to handle a full day away from home, my fears rested in all the things she might say in a full day away from home.
You see, our youngest child was born to socially relaxed parents in our mid thirties, with an 8 year gap between her and her siblings, one of which was an ornery teenage boy. Oh, and back then, we all loved to watch The Office. (And we still do.)
Basically, we created a 5 year old who could whip off a "That's what she said" response at frighteningly (in)appropriate times. This is the child who screamed "holy mudder!" when the nurse gave her a shot in the behind the previous summer. She's the child who stuffed the crotch of her gymnastics leotard with 2 paper towels so she could "look like daddy." It would’ve been awesome if I'd noticed that before class.
It's hard to describe her wardrobe style, but it wasn’t uncommon to leave the house with her dressed as Spiderman or wearing a formal dress with Ugg boots.
She was also the one in the family who couldn’t say the dog's name, Axel, without it sounding exactly like asshole. She would lean out the back door and yell, "Come inside, asshole!" She'd frequently be heard saying, "I love my asshole." And when she was describing our family to a friend, she said "We have 6 people and an asshole."
To be perfectly honest, we thought it was hilarious, as parents do, but I highly doubted that our school would agree.
So enter Kindergarten screening day, scheduled for Friday the 13th that year. That's right. Friday the 13th.
She woke up early, chose a relatively normal outfit, if you didn’t count the neon blue Toe Shoes. She strapped on a 10 pound fully stuffed Dora The Explorer backpack and asked, "Is my butt crack showing?" I knew we were in for a long day.
The checking in process was a blur. They scurried her away before either of us could start crying. (Okay, before I could start crying.) I was taken to the secretary's desk, handed a folder of paperwork and told to take a seat. So I pulled up a chair. Fifteen minutes later, as the secretary and I sat across from each other at her desk, I glanced around and noticed the tables set up behind me, full of parents filling out their paperwork. Well, crap. I awkwardly said, "I bet you wanted me to sit over there, didn't you?" She said, "Yep" and continued stapling her papers. Well, aren't we off to a banging start.
I completed the paperwork by answering one final question. Would you classify your child as Below Average, Average or Advanced? Insert me proudly circling Advanced and secretly hoping the secretary was watching, and since I was still sitting at her desk, my odds were good that she was.
Next stop, the nurses station to discuss medical history. What I wasn't expecting was for the nurse to have seen the YouTube video of our daughter singing "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan" when she was 3. Well. Now that we're fully acquainted.
Two hours later, I was meeting with one of the Kindergarten teachers as we reviewed some of our daughter’s answers on the screening test:
1. What do fish have that make them able to swim? Legs.
2. How many legs does an elephant have? 14.
3. What is a shirt made of? Cardboard.
4. What does a Fireman do? Fixes ladders.
5. If today was Saturday, what was yesterday? King's Island.
6. Name something that's round. A diamond.
On the bright side, they didn’t ask about our dog. But where were the questions that pertained to life? Ask her how she likes her coffee. For that matter, tell her how you like yours and she'll whip you up a cup. Ask her the address of our condo in Hilton Head and be amazed. Or who Jim Halpert shares a desk with. Come on! Give her something she can work with here.
So maybe “Advanced” was a bit of stretch. If I could go back, I'd cross out all the choices I was given and write in Gifted. Because I’m sure a Fireman fixes his ladder if it breaks, my engagement ring has a round diamond, and I think changing Fridays to the name of an amusement park is nothing short of brilliant.
We left hand in hand and I asked her how she did.
"I was freakin’ awesome."
That's what she said.