Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nemesis: Part One: How (I think) I got one

We all sat around the room facing each other for meet the teacher night for Addison's new class. The air was abuzz with excitement--some of it nervous, some joyous. Those who were sending a child off for the first time sat ramrod straight, glancing around the room for reassurance that they were doing the right thing. The rest of us were leaning back in our chairs smoking cigars and counting down the seconds untilPMO (Parents' Morning Out--it's what they call Ad's "class" at school) begins. As the lead teacher ran through her spiel, the newbies took notes. One even had a clip board. I forgot to even bring a pencil. The teacher said something about the kids starting three hours a day in October. Suddenly I was the one sitting ramrod straight. I must have heard her incorrectly. Damn! I should have been paying attention after all.

My hand shot up in the air. "What? You mean they're only going to be in school for two hours for the entire month??? I wasn't aware of this, were any of you?" I asked around. While a couple of the parents shared in my dismay, the mom with the clip board looked relieved. She raised her hand next: "I'm worried about (let's protect the one year old's anonymity here) Little Clipboard choking. Do you cut their snacks up into microscopic pieces for the children?" She was assured their food would be cut up into tiny pieces, chewed by one of the teachers, and spit into her child's mouth like a baby bird. (Okay, not really, but that's what I would have told her.) "Any other questions?" Mrs. Clipboard consulted her clipboard and raised her hand again. "I'm worried about the condition of the little kids' playground. We visited it this morning and there were slugs." "We'll pass out salt packets before we go outside," the teacher replied. (Again, not really, but that's what my solution would be.) Just then the director of the school popped her head in the room and asked how it was going. "I have a question for Madam Director (her parents named her that, anticipating her future career)," I yelled from the peanut gallery. "I didn't know the kids were only going to be in school for two hours for all of September. Where does it say that in the handbook?" "That's our policy for the one and two year old classes, so we can ease them into school," she explained. I wasn't satisfied, but she ducked back out of the room before I could pursue the issue any further. A couple of the other parents asked some reasonable questions while Mrs. Clipboard flipped through the pages of her notes. Then she asked my favorite question of the night: "Can you put knee pads on my child when you go outside so she doesn't scrape her knees if she falls?" The teachers explained that they load the one year olds up in a wagon to walk them the ten feet to their playground, and the playground itself has grass and mulch. She asked if they would do it anyway, just to be sure. My husband stopped me from asking, "Is knife juggling part of the curriculum and, if so, could you please make sure the knives are of the butter variety instead of steak? I'm worried about my daughter's safety." In retrospect, I don't think Mrs. Clipboard cared for my attitude too much.

Although the kid with the knee pads is in the Monday class and Addison goes to school on Thursdays, I pass her mother in the hall when I pick Ella up at the end of the day. I tend to smile at people a lot as my parents spent boat loads of money on my orthodontia so that people would stop screaming when I grinned and showed my teeth. One day I noticed that Ol' Clipboard never smiled back. The next day I made eye contact with her and said hello as I passed. She looked away. From that day on she averted her eyes whenever headed her way. I know the animosity is supposed to go both ways in a nemesistial relationship, but with each passing scowl I have only become more and more fascinated by the situation rather than offended.

When I saw this woman in the parking lot, she scowled. When I passed her in the hallway, she looked away. One day I saw her at the Museum of Life and Science. She entered the play area and, upon seeing us, headed straight to the other side of the room. "See that woman way over there?" I asked the person I was with. "That's my nemesis." And that's somehow what she had become.

Read Nemesis Part II: The Next Level now up on Just Barely!


  1. HAHAHA!! I believe the knife juggling is my favorite part. Was the knee skinning question real?? If so, she may have to be my vicarious nemesis...

  2. Yes, I promise you the knee pad thing was completely real.

  3. Start wearing knee pads when you drop Subtractison off. This will serve two key purposes:

    1) She will hate you even more, which will at least amuse me.

    2) In your case, it'll probably protect you. Also consider elbow, hand, foot, shin pads and a helmet.