Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wet wipes for my back to school tattoo

By Karrie McAllister

This week I will send my oldest child to kindergarten.
We have been preparing for weeks for this next step in her academic career, when I take the baby bird I have been raising and grooming and teaching and drop her out of the nest and into the care of someone I have never met, and then trust that person to love my child half as much as I do.
But back to the preparing.
It seems that being a first-time school-mom should come with some sort of handbook. I have been living my life for the past few weeks trying blindly to prepare my daughter for her first year in school. I just want to make very certain that my kid has a great beginning experience in school, and very, very certain that if she doesn’t, it wasn’t because I messed up or forgot anything.
So we prepare. First task: the infamous school supply list.
I’ve been carrying this list around in my wallet all summer so that I wouldn’t lose it. Folded and crinkled like an old receipt, I studied it long and hard before we went to the store. It seemed easy enough—markers, crayons, paper towels. The basics, right?
But panic set in when standing in the aisle, I read “wet wipes.” Looking in front of me, I noticed something I never had before: there are actually many, many types of wet wipes. Antibacterial ones, bathroom ones, kitchen ones, face ones, and even the kind I have used in the thousands of diaper changes over the years.
I was kind of blocking the aisle when another family walked up, looking for wet wipes.
“What kind do they mean?!?!” I attacked, frantically.
But of course, they had a different list from a different school district and were of zero help. Encouraging, yes, but not helpful.
Suddenly, another mom I recognized from preschool walked by. Abandoning my own children in the store, I ran to say hello (although as usual I had to call her “Mrs. Smith” because remembering parent’s first names is beyond my ability) and grill her on the wet wipe conundrum.
She was polite, but said that it really didn’t matter what type I sent in, and went on her way most likely thinking that I was a lunatic first-time mom.
And while she was right, I was left thinking that my poor daughter might have to wipe her face with bleach if I didn’t send the right wipes to school. Tragedy, and it would be – the dreaded words – ALL MY FAULT.
So instead of guessing, I bought three types of wipes. And I realize that this makes me an official “crazy first-time school-mom” and I should just have “newbie” tattooed across my forehead, but at this point, I am what I am. And I’ll do what I have to do.
What lies ahead? I will wake up on that fateful day, make sure she is dressed in her chosen outfit, feed her a nutritious breakfast, double-check that her bag is sufficiently packed and she has her giant bag of various wipes, and then hopefully drop her off in a timely fashion.
And then I’m guessing I will cry like a baby for the next few hours until I make sure she’s home safe and sound and that she had a wonderful day. At that point, I’ll ask her for a wet wipe so that I can scrub that tattoo off my forehead.
(Stay tuned next week to see if I survive!)

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