"The Scribe," my oldest daughter, is sick. Poor kid. Strep is running around our house like a slippery piece of snot in a flood. When I went to get "The Scribe" from school, I happened to notice "The Hippie," my second oldest daughter, walking past the office. All the ladies in the office grinned.
That's when I discovered something horrible. I wish I could remember when ignorance was bliss!
Now, The Hippie is the most carefree child in the world. She has long blonde, curly hair that hangs to her waist. She has deep blue eyes and long dark lashes. Yet she's never in a hurry. She doesn't care that someday she'll be a super model. All she's concerned with is that people are being nice to one another and that we'll all go green someday. That child is super easy to raise--at least I thought so UNTIL this!
So I watched her sauntering past the office. She always moves soooo sloooow anyway. But this seemed worse. All of the sudden some kid came up to her and they traded something. She did it in such a way that it looked worse than a mafia drug transaction. It didn't help that a huge sucker stayed in her mouth like a stogy. The Hippie pocketed whatever she'd gained in the trade. She looked to the left and the right, obviously making sure no one had seen the transaction. She smiled after doing so, and I saw where the sucker had stained her teeth blue. The problem was she shouldn't have smiled; she shouldn't have been happy because I HAD SEEN HER and she was going to answer a few questions that night! Then, using an angel's speed, she skipped off in the direction of her classroom and I watched her curls bounce away in merriment.
The sweet lady in the office turned to me. "That kid is something. We see her every morning. I've even started giving her suckers."
"Why do you see her every morning?" I asked, a bit confused. I know that The Hippie loves the office, but I couldn't understand why she'd go in there every day. I started thinking about when I'd been in first grade. I'd only visited the office ladies a handful of times. They never knew my name.
The secretary blushed a bit as if broaching a taboo topic. "It's because she's tardy a lot. But we understand. Some families are just like that."
I scoffed. We've only been late a few times. That DID NOT constitute a student who's tardy A LOT. So, as I walked over to the students' computer to check out The Scribe, I did a quick search under my other daughter's name. I could see how many day's she's been absent as well as how many she's been late. A whopping forty-one flashed on the screen.
"Forty-one tardies?" I nearly screamed at the sweet secretary, who hopefully still reads my blog even after the Got Boots story. "The hundredth day of school was just last week!" I motioned to The Scribe. "Didn't you think it was odd that my other daughter is always on time? I wish you would have called me after the tenth tardy . . . or something!"
The lady looked upset. "We're so sorry. We had no idea that they're sisters. We see so many kids. It's just hard to know."
So, I left the office. Later that day, when The Hippie got home from school, I had a very serious talk with her. "Why are you always late? I bring you to school so early."
"Well, I've found the fun side of things, Mom. You always say to do that, right?"
I nodded, worried for what would follow. Now the whole thing felt like my fault. I was the failure. I was the reason she'll always remind me of the number forty-one! I shook myself. I needed to be tough. This wasn't my fault. That child was wise and had come prepared for war. She even used some lawyers' tactics. "Go on," I said.
"Everyday you drop me off so early . . . that I get bored. So, I go to the back of the building. I swing on the swings. Nobody bothers me for the longest time since I'm the only one there. Then after the bell rings, I wait for the pledge. That's when I go to the office."
At that point, my eyes were wider than the gates to Hell. My breath left me. My brain turned numb after hearing her words. "Go on," I said again. That's pretty much all I could say. She looked nervous so I tempted her voice with a smile.
"After the pledge starts, then I go inside, straight to the office. There's that special computer there. The lady taught me how to use it."
"And how do you do that?" I asked, still forcing a smile.
"I type in my name and then 'late check in.' After that, I get a new Squinky from my friend who waits for me!" So that's what the mafia transaction had been.
Have you seen Squinkies? First the kids loved those rubber bands and now Squinkies are the "it" thing.
I grabbed my phone and got ready to walk away. "I'm calling the school."
"But Mom, don't be mad at them," The Hippie said. "I haven't told you the best part. That nice lady in the office always gives me a sucker. Once I started coming in all the time, they decided to buy a whole bag of suckers just for me. I only get one if I'm late."
So, she felt rewarded for being late? I called the office. I'd had enough. "She hasn't been late. Isn't there something we can do?" I pleaded.
"If she'd gone to her classroom we could have done something, but when someone's voluntarily signed in that they're late . . . there just isn't much we can do."
I hung up the phone.
Well, even though The Hippie will be okay, I still fumed, pretty upset. Forty-one tardies, are not a happy thing. When I dreamed about their education, it didn't include forty-one tardies!!!
I passed the Hippie some hot cocoa and prepared to deliver the blow. I know I was about to lie. Everything regarding her tardies would be all right, especially since no child can be left behind. I went on anyway because sometimes kids need to be scared. Like that time someone told me that a junk monster would grow in my closet unless I cleaned it--some fibs are just meant for good.
"I don't know how to say this." I raised an eyebrow, and stirred my cocoa slowly as I waited. "But if you're late too many times, they'll put you into Kindergarten again."
She gasped, feeling the impact of my golden blow. "Wow, Mom," she said. "All those suckers weren't worth it."