Tonight is Littlests' Prom Night. We began preparing well ahead of time. Dress, shoes, accessories. We had an in depth conversation about whether a strapless bra was necessary for her dress. We determined that it had good structure and it really wouldn't be needed. So....last night about 9 PM she says, I think I should get a strapless bra. What? We decided it doesn't need it. Well, she says, I think I would rather have one. Just to play it safe. Can I get out of school early to get it?
Just the other day at dinner, The SeaMonkey mentioned that the school year is almost over and next year was Littlests' last year. For 20 years our lives have been dictated by school. Everything has to work around school schedules." Finally, he exclaimed, we will be free of the public school system!" "Yay, No More School", I added, and then we simultaneously burst into "School's Out Forever", ala' Alice Cooper, while Littlest looked on with a 'yes and I'll be free of you people' look on her face.
Once the kids were out of preschool we lost flexibility. The SeaMonkey would suggest we take a little time away and I would veto it. We can't do that. The girls have school. They'll get behind on their work. They might miss a test. They can't have an unexcused absence! Why? he would ask. Because they can't! I would answer. I just knew the entire school staff would stare when I walked by, whispering behind my back, Yes, that's her. They took their kids out of school to Go On A Trip! No one died or anything. It Was Just For Fun."No wonder her kid was seen wandering around with Steinbeck when she had been assigned great literature, like My Sisters Keeper. And there's a rumor that last one graduated by bribing her teachers with paintings of Tarpon.
We can't do that, I would explain. We can't break the rules. It's a bad example for the kids. As a result the girls rarely had an unexcused absence. Though I admit last December, when my schedule was nuts and Littlest just had to get some shoes and it was the last day before break, I decided to break my rule and get her out an hour early to buy shoes. I skimmed the check out list at the front office for the 'reasons for leaving'. In a row, doctors appointments and sickness, over and over. I hesitated for a moment and reached for the pen. I wrote: Doctor Appointment. Guilt flooded over me as we walked to the car. I fibbed to the school. What if they noticed Littlests new shoes and KNEW. They would know I took my child out of school for a frivolous reason and LIED about it. I was a terrible mother.
So Littlest asked if I could get her out of school early today. She explained that most people didn't even bother to show up and the only reason she had to go was that she had an important test in English, and she didn't slog her way through A Farewell to Arms to fail. But after that there was no reason to be there, and everyone who was would also be leaving early to get ready for prom. I knew this was true. All around town girls would be skipping their final classes and heading out to hair and nail appointments. Nothing would get in the way of the hours of preparation to turn these young ladies into glamour queens. The school, of course, knows this too. They would never condone it. Wink. Wink. Everyone just pretends they didn't know what was going on. After all, it's prom night, at 40 bucks a pop. Wink. Wink. So I said, ok.
I walk casually into the front office behind the two other moms currently checking out their daughters. With only the slightest quaver in my voice I tell the receptionist that I have to check out my child and give her the name. I feel squirmy inside. Am I flushed? Do I seem nervous? Is she going to buy it? If she asks the reason, I'll stutter. I know I'll stutter. She doesn't ask, just points to the check out form. Name. Date. Time. SIGNATURE. Signature. Like an affidavit or something. Is this illegal? How much time can I do for this? But I reach for the pen. I look at the very long list. In the "reason" column is a repeating pattern. Name after name followed by Doc. Appt. Doc. Appt. Doc. Appt. At least 30 names already just on that page. Wow. There must be a plague. I bat excuses back and forth in my head, Doct. Appt? Sickness? Personal Reasons? What should I write? What do I do? A father comes in behind me. "I'm here to pick up my daughter," he says. And then I made a decision. Yes. I was taking my child out of school for an illegitimate reason. But that's where I drew the line.
I grabbed the pen firmly and signed my name. In bold and plain print I wrote in the last column under Reason For Leaving:
Last Minute Strapless Bra Shopping.
I held my head high, grabbed Littlest, and headed out the door.
I'll be hiding from the truant officers under my bed if anyone needs me.
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