Is that a trick question?

Wednesday, 8:52 AM. Or thereabouts. At this point, the number’s not really important, is it? What’s important is that he’s here. He is finally, finally here, at school, despite a morning that inched along so painfully that my eyeballs hurt with the strain of keeping my brains from exploding through my face. And yet, the school insists on prolonging the agony by forcing me to go through the ritual of “signing him in.” Now, I am all for the wisdom of a quick check-in at the office, a little wave and checkmark to let them know that the transfer of care is complete and kthxbai. But they make you fill out this form, this form that on a good day would be asinine but on a morning in which my every move and strategy has been thwarted, on the morning when “parenting” is met with “counterattack,” seems just cruel.

First, as noted above, there’s the time. To reiterate: at this point, does it matter? The time is late. He’s just late. So stop asking.

Then, I have to write his name. Which wouldn’t normally be a big deal except that the space for his name is about an inch and a half long and they want me to write it with a dull, red magic marker tied to the clipboard, and this is the child of lesbians, people: he is hyphenated. By virtue of his egalitarian parents, he has a gargantuan surname, one that I am no more successful at containing in the tiny space allotted for it than I was at convincing a certain six-year-old to get dressed and eat something this morning, goddammit. And so I go over the line, encroaching into the section: “Why is your child late?”

Okay, so, you know what? There is no “why.” There is late, and there is not late, and that is it. There is no answer to this question, just as there is no answer to the question of whether, if you knew what you know now, you would do it all over again. Whatever it is — I’m not getting specific here — would you do it again? Now that you know what it’s like? Ponder that, but don’t answer it. Because there is no answer.

And yet, you have to answer. It seems, from the answers that precede yours, that there are two possible choices: “city bus” and “slept in.” I have no idea what the hell they mean by option A, and option B is laughable: we could have been awake at 4 AM and still not have arrived here on time today. One parent, several lines above me, has written “bla bla blurg.” Atta girl.

Do they really want to know? Can they handle the truth? Do they really want us to write things like (as various friends have suggested to me), “She was naked and screaming in her room when the carpool came?” Or maybe, “Couldn’t be bothered to make the morning any more miserable”? What about this: “Missed the bus after having a meltdown because I put the bananas on his oatmeal AFTER the milk when I was supposed to put them on BEFORE the milk.” Or “Spent 10 minutes frantically searching the house for the purple mittens WITH the holes because she was crying in the entryway and refusing to leave the house wearing the purple mittens WITHOUT the holes. Then spent another 10 minutes convincing her that she would have to go to school wearing the perfectly good purple mittens because I couldn’t find the holey ones. Then realized at the end of the day that they were in her backpack all along.”

Ditching honesty, I suppose I could write “Some hangovers are like that.” Or maybe get all creative and melodramatic: “Suzie couldn’t be at school on time because, well, this isn’t where I was supposed to be at this point in my life, you know what I mean? And once i started crying I couldn’t stop but now that Suzie is six she is such a good listener and she managed to pick out a blouse for me, too. sorry I’m not wearing pants.” And then sit back and wait for the call from Children’s Aid.

Whatever I write, or decline to write, it's all there between the lines anyway: the story of my deficiencies as a parent.

I left it blank.

PS: Apparently I was also late for the 2011 Blog Delurking Day, but better late than never, say I. So, I'm inviting you to the prom and I hope you'll say yes: if you've been waiting for a reason to comment here but haven't yet, today's the day! I'd love it if you dropped me a note to say hi, either in the comments or, if that's too public a forum, via the contact form.