Today was Noelle's very first day of school. She was slated to start on Monday, but the flu and a snow day postponed the big event until today (and really, who wouldn't love a one-day school week?) I packed her brand new Tinkerbell book bag with diapers and wipes, indoor shoes and extra clothes, and tucked in a short note to her teaching staff wishing them a good day together. Although she will only be attending class daily from 9:15-11:00, Nick and I were doubting our decision to send her to school. But in actuality, the hang ups were our own; Noelle doesn't know enough to be nervous or anxious. To her this was just going to be another van ride, another day out, another adult to hug, more little kids like her brother to play and make noise around her. She doesn't realize the implications of starting school- nor does she give a hoot. Noelle's teacher has prepared the kids for her classroom with lessons on being special and talking about being different, as Noelley will be the only special needs child in her entire school. The teacher assured us that on top of Noelle's personal education assistant, there were 32 four and five year olds who were super excited to be Noelle's little helpers.
Her van came to our door promptly at 8:55 and I gathered Noelle- all bundled up in her snowsuit- and book bag and headed out the door. At the last second I noticed that it was snowing/freezing rain outside so I grabbed my own coat off the hook and out we went. After strapping her into her car seat, I exchanged a few words with her driver- a lovely older woman named Joan. I gave Noelley a quick kiss on the cheek, slid the van door closed and watched as they drove down our lane and down the road. I had just allowed a stranger to drive away with my daughter...in a snow storm. I felt fat, swollen tears sliding down my cheeks; I gave myself permission to cry- I had earned it. I turned and headed back up our front steps and went inside. Or at least tried to...the door was locked. The fucking door was locked!!
It was at that moment that Dryden and Saku, both of whom were on the other side of the locked door, came into the foyer and saw me standing in the snow/rain frantically jingling the doorknob. Dryden waved. I lost it and became hysterical. Not only had I just sent my daughter off with some stranger, but I also managed to abandon my two year old son alone in the house with a dog who eats his own shit as the sole babysitter. I am the worst parent. Ever. I rested my forehead against the window of the door and bawled. I heard Dryden tell Saku, "Momma's sad." I ran around the house trying every door and window, hoping like crazy that one was left unlocked. No such luck. Meanwhile, Dryden and Saku followed me from door to door, window to window, waving and blowing kisses. I knew it was a long shot but I tried anyways..."Dryden," I yelled through the door, "can you open? Can you let Momma in?" His little mess of blond curls nodded vigorously. He ran to the closet and retrieved his snow boots, put them on and then stood there with a "Ta-da!" expression on his face. Great. I could feel the bubble of hysteria percolating in my chest again. I ran to the garage, praying that Nick had foreseen me being an idiot and this exact situation and had placed a spare key in there.
I tied my boots, buttoned my jacket, and turned up the collar. "Breath," I told myself softly...all I needed now was to panic and go into labour, in the snow, in our back yard, by myself. "Think!" I begged my brain to come up with a solution. Our closest neighbour is across the street, but they both work during the day. Our other neighbour is a farmer down the road- at least 1/4 of a mile away. I am 40 weeks pregnant, so I calculated that it would take me approximately 3.78 hours to waddle that distance and I wasn't even certain that they were home. Plus I didn't want to leave Dryden "alone." I peeked in the window to see what they were up to. Dryden had freed the box of Cheerios from the cupboard and was setting up a feast for him and the dog. I tried every door and window yet again. The back door was frozen shut from the freezing rain yesterday so that was a bust. Our side door has a wonky doorknob and is tricky for adults to open on a good day so I was holding out little hope that a toddler with peanut buttery fingers could manage it. At this point I had been stuck outside for over half an hour. It was time to get destructive. I went back in the garage and found a short length of 2x4 and Nick's step ladder. I went to the front of the house (we have an insulated front porch) and picked a window that already had a crack in one corner. I knew we had thick plastic to winterize our old windows so the plan was to break the window, climb my fat ass inside, hug the little guy, plastic the window up, call Nick up and apologize profusely.
Just then, Dryden and Saku came into the porch (he had added a toque and one oven mitt to his outfit.) "Hi Momma!" he yelled through the door. I said a small, desperate prayer and tried once more before smashing the window. "Dryden," I yelled at him over the wind, "Can you open? Can you let Momma in please?" He very casually walked over to the door, grabbed the knob, and gave it a slight twist...just enough to unlock it. I burst in, picked him up, and hugged the bejesus out of him.
I honestly hadn't expected him to do it. Needless to say, Dryden got a free pass for the day: No scolding, as much TV as he wanted, a glass of Pepsi with Momma and a we shared a whole bag of York peppermint patties bacuase quite frankly, I frigging needed it.
When I saw Noelle's van turning down our lane at 11:20, I unlocked two door, tucked my cell and keys in my coat pocket and put on a hat before closing the door behind me. Noelle must have had a full morning because she was snoring softly in her car seat in the back of the van when I opened the door to take her out. Her driver said that she is a sweetie and a pleasure. Her teacher sent home a note outlining her morning and activities and put to rest any doubts we may have had about integrating her into J/K. Noelle has officially and successfully navigated through her first day of school- and Mommy somehow managed to survive it too.