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I recently had the chance to participate in the first Tucson Mom it Forward event at Ben’s Bells Studio.

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A group of great women got together to make and paint bells to be distributed to the Tucson community by Ben’s Bells volunteers.

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Buttercup even got in on the action.

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And I? Got a chance to reconnect with a few of my favorite Bloggy Bootcamp friends. Have you met Jess? She’s kind of made of awesome.

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This is me getting inappropriate with Kelly. Yeah, I know. She’s adorable.

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Buttercup had a blast playing with other Bloggy Children and took a moment to dip her fingers in the fountain. I also lost a few coins. Or not. Depends on your opinions regarding wishes for golden ponies.

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She learned to Be Kind. I learned how much I am looking forward to the next opportunity to teach my little girl about volunteering.

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Thank you, Becca. For organizing. For emailing reminders. For giving us all a chance to Be Kind. You did a fantastic job.

 

My memory is divided in four parts. There are the basics, of course. I remember my teachers’ names. What my house looked like. The name of the kid who got in trouble with me that one time. But for the most part, “kindergarten” brings to mind very specific images, each one bleeding into the next, like the plot of a gritty drama, complete with a supporting cast and a neat little ending.
Opening sequence. Theme song starts. Camera zooms in a two-story home in Detroit’s inner city. A young mother steps out onto her front porch as school buses drive by with other people’s children. She takes the steps and peers under the porch. She seems satisfied with what she doesn’t see.
“Okay, Pauline,” she calls out. Get your backpack and come on out. Your abuelo is waiting to take you to school now.”
As the station wagon pulls away from the curb, a rat pokes its head out from under the front porch.
The camera fades to black.

Next scene. It’s play time. The girl is sitting across the floor from a boy named Gordon. They have a round basket of plastic animal toys (I am remembering a giraffe) and are pushing it between them. (For reasons that escape me now, my five-year-old self finds this hilarious.) A fellow student is almost tripped by the sliding basket after repeated warnings to stop pushing it across their room. Punishment is heads down during snack time. No cookies and juice for either one.
She has to go to pee. The girl does her best to look at the clock without lifting her head. She can’t tell time yet, but knows the big and little hands are far away from Mrs. Watroba saying the can go home. The girl doesn’t want to pee her pants so she raises her hand, making sure to keep her head down.
Mrs. Watroba hands her the hall pass and selects her only friend, Claudia, as her bathroom partner. Neither one of them feels lucky.
Commercial break.
Camera zooms in on the view from beneath the locked bathroom stall. Shoes the size of grown men are seen running by. Then another pair. Two little girls are standing on either side of the toilet seat, holding on to one another, trying not to whimper too loudly because they know (they think) that the boys are just trying to scare them for fun. They needn’t worry. The sound of the 8th graders laughing and taunting the girls while banging on the doors drowns out any other.
Next scene: The young mother is vacuuming up shards of glass from the bedroom carpet while her husband examines a hole in the window, next to the top bunk. The girl knows her daddy is mad. She hears words like, “lucky” and “BB gun” and suddenly there are boxes packed and Tias and Tios filling their cars with their things. She doesn’t understand that they are moving or why. Only that she wasn’t able to convince her parents that she needed red Mary Janes like Missy down the block in time to show Missy that she had a pair, too.
Cut scene. Fade to commercial break.
New scene. Final segment. The girl is wrapped around her mother’s leg at kindergarten drop off. There are tears. To ease the transition, Mrs. Drapeau offers the girl the job of passing out the cookies. It’s supposed to be the job of whichever student brought the cookies in that day. But there are tears for the rest of the school year, even when the walk to school was filled with laughter. The girl learns to read. Her little bladder is thankful for a dedicated kindergarten bathroom. She passes out the cookies every morning.
Next scene: The young mother opens the front door to her little suburban house and three girls, ages 6, 4, and 2, spill out onto the front lawn in their bathing suits. They are laughing and screaming as they take turns running through the sprinkler. Their mother sits on the front porch, a glass of lemonade in one hand and the other holding a phone to her ear.
“We’re settling in,” she says into the phone. “Yeah, the girls are doing fine.”
The camera fades to black. The theme song plays as the credits begin to roll.

This is my first post written for The Red Dress Club RemembeRED memoir prompt. This week, writers were asked to remember kindergarten.

 


“Can I play the Elmo game?”
Buttercup hands me my her Nintendio dsi and the game cartridge and waits patiently for me insert the game and turn the system on.
“Thank you, Mama.” She settles onto her belly and crosses her feet in the air behind her.
“Do you need anything else?” I take a quick glance around her room. Water bottle-check. Snack cup with pretzels-check. Baby monitor on-check. “Mama is going to my room now to do my yoga. I’ll be right across the hall.”
“Okay, Mama,” she says, sweetly.
I should have known better.
“Mama! I have to go potty!” Her voice echoes back on to itself through the baby monitor. “Mama! I can’t get my pants!”
I’m not even two breaths into Mountain pose yet. Dammit. I sigh, pause the DVD, and trip over the puppy and step on a squeaky toy as trudge across the hall to her bathroom. I find Buttercup trying to wiggle out of her cotton play pants.
“Oh hi, Mama!,” she says as I walk into the room. “Look! I can do it myself!”
She proceeds to pull down her pants, set her potty seat on the toilet, climb up onto her stool, and sit herself down. “I couldn’t before! But now that you are here, I can! Isn’t that silly?”
I fold my arms across my chest. Little stinker. “Okay, baby. Good job. Let’s get you settled back in your room and then Mama needs to finish her DVD so we can play after.”
“Okay, Mama,” she says. Again, her voice is sweet and full of promise.
I try to clear my mind to focus on my breathing, push the puppy away once more, and adjust my feet and stance for proper alignment. Mountain pose. Triangle pose. Warrior.
“Mama! I need you!”
Mother of…
I shake myself from my Yoga haze. “What do you need?” I ask from where I am standing.
“I want to play! I want you!”
“Can I finish my exercise first so I can be healthy and strong?” I pray for a yes. I need Yoga to relax myself and my overactive mind. I need Yoga to strengthen my core and fight the muffin top. And I need five consecutive minutes to get through one freaking pose.
“Mama!” She is crying now but stops cold and breaks into an immediate smile, the last fat tear backtracking as if caught in its own lie, as soon as I come into her line of sight. I make a mental note to sign her up for acting lessons as soon as possible.
“Oh, Mama!” she says, sounding believably surprised. I imagine the agents tripping over themselves to represent my future Broadway star. “What are you doing here?”
I swear under my breath and remind myself that she is three. An evil little genius, but three, nonetheless.
“Baby,” I say, “Mama needs this. I gave you time this morning and I will give you more time after I do Yoga, but I need this time for me. Can you please play by yourself for just a little bit longer?”
The DVD is 40 minutes long, but I’ll be happy with 10 more. Just to squelch the urge to go play in traffic.
“Can I go with you? I want to be healthy and strong, too.” Her eyes are wide and hopeful. Knowing full well having her in the room with me is going to do no more for my concentration than stopping every five minutes to see what she needs, I say yes. If I can find inner peace while trying to do Yoga with a three-year-old, I’m pretty sure I can find it anywhere. She hugs me. We sit down and she copies my movements as I settle into Cobbler’s pose. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breath in. Breathe…
“Mama! Look! I am doing it just like you!”
“Yes, baby. You are.” My eyes are closed. The puppy is licking my toes again. My voice is calm.
I am Mother. Hear me…relax.

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“No toys today, baby,” I remind Buttercup as we walk into the first store. It’s an errand kind of day with The Husband, and because we recently found out Buttercup is allergic to the Mesquite trees so prevalent in Arizona it’s hard not to trip on one every time you turn around, we promised her some indoor crafty stuff at Joanne Fabrics. “We have to save our money for the fun stuff.”
“Okay, Mama,” she says happily. The kid is smart enough to know that she’s gonna score with more than she will actually ask for if she lets Mama and Daddy lead the Spoil Train.
The first stop is Bed Bath & Beyond. The Husband wants a new pizza stone.
“Oh, mama!” Her voice is full of wonder. “Look!”
She’s looking at one of those little whisks with a pink piggy-shaped  handle manufactured solely for the purpose of the impulse buy. The Evil Marketing Geniuses who decide what gets placed where in the stores for optimal sales have oh so cleverly put this little gem on an end-rack at the approximate eye-level of a three-year-old.
“Can I buy it, Mama? It’s my favorite!”
The Husband and I trade glances, waiting to see who snaps first.
Pleaaaaasssee? I looooove it.”
I look away. I count to three.
“Mama…?
“Ok, you can have it.” The Husband smiles sheepishly.
He cracked first. I won this round.
Our next stop is the crafting department at Joanne Fabrics. It’s hard to keep a preschooler occupied when she can’t go outside to play in the world’s biggest sandbox during Spring Break, so we figured a few little indoor projects might take her mind off of the park she keeps asking me to take her to. I figured maybe three or four $5 craft jobs involving lots of glitter, goopy glue, and construction paper.
“Oh, baby! Look at this!” I point out the wooden eggs made for painting. Easter is coming. I grab two sets and the required paint. And the brushes. And stencils because I totally need them for the designs I am planning. “Wanna make eggs with me?”
The Husband gives me a look. I raise an eyebrow. So what if this one is more for me than for her?
As we stroll through the store, random items are thrown into the cart. Make Your Own Memory Book. A photo frame to decorate along with the glitter glue sticks and the foamy stickers to make it pretty. A wooden jewelry box and more paint (because this one needs these colors, Mama!) A doll-making kit.  A necklace making kit. And a set to create our own bunny and chick figurines at home.
Buttercup hasn’t even asked for one thing yet. All she has done is smile and nod enthusiastically when asked if she wanted to make (insert item here) with Mama.
She says nothing until we pass the American Girl doll knock-offs placed, yet again, at exactly the height a three-year-old will see them first, allowing them enough time to perfect the pout and catch their parents off-guard. Sneaky Marketing Bastards.
“Mama! Daddy!” she picks up a doll box and hugs it tight. “ I loooove her! She is my favorite!”
“How much?” Asks The Husband, without skipping a beat.
“Twenty bucks,” I say.
“Put her in the cart.”
“Wait, let’s pick out a dress and a pair of shoes, too. Oh, and pajamas. Hey, look. These are on clearance.” I almost choose a pair of sunglasses, too, but stop short before it becomes even more painfully obvious I want my own doll, too.
We don’t make eye contact. This round is a draw since we both cracked under the pressure of blinking eyelashes and spiral curls looking up at us with love.
Into the over-flowing cart the doll named Sophia goes, and I hand Buttercup her piggy bank money  just for a special purchase of her own. She pays for the doll that she has already dubbed her Best Friend Ever. We pay for the $130 worth of Crap She Didn’t Ask For.
Buttercup: 1. Parents: Suckered.

 

I could make stuff up. I could write a hilarious novel. Probably. You know, if I actually tried.

But why? They say to write what you know. And I? Know animated conversations with The Husband that I couldn’t make up if I tried.

I burped. Loudly. Damn spaghetti sauce was just not agreeing with my insides.

“I sound like my mother,” I said, splashing water on my face to wash away the cleanser. My eyes met his in the mirror. Then I burped again. I sounded like a trucker.

“Great,” he said with a chuckle, putting his toothbrush back on his sink. “I married your mother. I want a divorce.”

I followed him into the bedroom and stood with my hands on my hips in mock pissed off-edness. We don’t fight a lot, so pretend arguments are a nice way to keep us on our toes. I play a mean pretend bitch, but he thinks it’s just cute.

You want a divorce? I married your mother. I should be granted one first.”

“Yes,” he said, as he pulled the comforter over his head and settled in for bed. “but I asked first. Which means? I win.”

“Fine,” I spat out. “But I’m the one with the blog. So really? I win.”

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