The Hen entered preschool this year. (Back in September.)
I selected this particular preschool, not for its approach to educating little people, but for its proximity to my home. Frankly, I had no desire to drive twenty minutes round-trip to and from the Gort’s school at 8, only to get back in the car thirty minutes later and drive another twenty minutes for the Hen.
Maybe that makes me lazy. But I know myself and I didn’t want to be one of those ‘crazy’ moms who drive all over creation. You know, the kind who spend thirty minutes driving their pool-averse kid to swimming lessons near the airport during rush hour.
Everything seemed above board with the three-blocks-away-preschool, except for one minor detail: the dreaded parent-volunteer component. And I’m not even talking about the come-into-the-classroom-every-six-weeks-for-three-hours requirement. That was a bitter enough pill to swallow. I’m referring to the ‘parent jobs.’ As in, every family is required to contribute to the success of the school by doing a job.
I scanned the printed list for the least time consuming, most interesting option: recycling, volunteer coordinator, party planner, etcetera.
I settled on documentation. For isn’t that my great love in life – documenting that which no one else has any interest in documenting?
And then September turned into October, which turned into the end of October, and I kept swatting at the gnawing in the back of my mind – that I’d signed up for documentation and shouldn’t I be doing something about it?
And then an email appeared in my inbox with the subject: documentation. And I knew my tenure of negligence was up. Sort of, anyway, because the email did not so much address my (or the other classes’) failure to document. That, I’ve come to learn, is an entirely un-Canadian thing to do. Bluntness and directness appear to be frowned upon as far as I can tell from living here for the past twelve-hundred-and-some days.
Hence, the email spoke benignly of a proposal to create a centralized email address for all persons in charge of documentation. Instead of the more direct ‘so, you signed up to be documentation coordinators, and here we are nearly two months into the school year and there are no posters on the walls, anywhere.’
The next day, I walked into the preschool and there, shaming me from the wall of the cloakroom, was a poster created by the other class’ documenter. Documentarian. Whatever. Brightly colored, shaped like a rocket (it had been a unit on space), printed professionally.
It was clearly the work of a graphic designer and now I, person who used to be really good at Word Perfect back in the 90s, had to produce something comparable.
That night, I consulted my resident Adobe Illustrator-InDesign-Photoshop expert. ‘I need to make a poster for the Hen’s school [six weeks ago], can you please help me this time and next time I’ll figure something else out.’
Of course by ‘helping me’ I meant the professor had to do this, alone. Because I had no skills to speak of, other than taking overly yellow photographs of the cherubs in their fluorescent-lit-classroom.
‘Sure, this will take me ten minutes,’ the professor agreed, kindly enough. Even if it was a complete and total lie. Both of us being entirely inept when it comes to estimating how long it actually takes to do anything. Two hours later, well past the midnight hour, ‘we’ were still sitting in the living room, poring over the laptop. Trying to drag little people’s faces onto the planets in ‘our’ solar-system-poster.
Get it? They did a unit on space, so ‘we’ created a sort of solar system with round balls for planets, but instead ‘we’ put people’s faces on the planets. So it was like the children, were the planets?
When all was said and done, I looked at the professor and said ‘never again.’ And then November turned into December and ‘space’ turned into…...’Canada’.
‘Can you do another poster for me? Just something simple – nothing complicated?’ I asked. [Two weeks later than I should have.] ‘They did a unit on all things Canadian, so I’m thinking ‘we’ could just make a poster like the Canadian flag?’ And the professor gave me his, ‘that’s entirely too uninteresting’ look. ‘What about doing a totem pole,’ he schemed. And I rolled my eyes and gnawed on my fist at the thought of another late night(s) spent on the preschool poster.
‘I can’t turn it off,’ he prima-donna’d me a week later, during one of our little ‘disputes’ about how this was a freaking preschool and a class of four year old’s and really did not warrant something ultra-elaborate [read: time consuming.] ‘What do you think would have happened if Michelangelo’s wife said to him, ‘I want you to paint the bathroom ceiling, but nothing too crazy,’ he asked.
And I felt like I was trapped in a Modern Family episode, except I couldn’t decide if I was dealing with Phil Dunphy, or Cam.
‘She would have said, paint it Benjamin Moore White Cloud and be done with it. Nothing else. No mosaics. Nothing.’