i took my son school supplies shopping for the first time ever and there is such a dumb satisfaction in buying your kid a 64-pack of crayolas with a sharpener in back when you grew up poor and your mom couldn't afford name brand crayons so got you the roseart 24-pack for 15 cents at jewel. he and i took his list to target and went hard on splurging for first ever school supplies. i felt a pang of guilt remembering how my mom struggled to buy supplies and new clothes for me and my sisters as i tossed $6 pencil pouches in the cart.
ONLY THE BEST FOR MY AWFUL SWINE.
this month he starts prekindergarten at a chicago public school and i am kind of freaking out. how does anyone mentally prepare to have a child who is out in the world, doing things without his mom, probably doesn’t even love me anymore—i definitely loved school more than my mom when i was little. reconciling my childhood and school experience with what i hope my son’s will be is a total mind fuck. my sisters and i were always the poorest, unkempt and uncouth kids on the block and i loved school supplies shopping so much because going to school was the best part of my childhood. sad trombone!
i went to the same elementary school as all my aunts and uncles and because my mom was 16 and pregnant, i had the same teachers as them and her as well. my family is basically a pack of truant wolverines, so you could imagine entering elementary school with a reputation that far proceeds you. when my mom was in the 5th grade, there was a ~balloon incident~ that made the family name dirt. there was a school-wide competition held where, for $1, students could buy a balloon that they would release together outside and whoever’s balloon got the furthest won a new bicycle. there was a deadline and everyone wrote a note explaining the contest and asked the finder to call the school to let them know their location by the end of the month. fingers crossed.
my mom’s balloon made it to kentucky and she beat out everyone, but a week after the competition ended someone’s balloon chimed in from tennessee and the school gave the bike to them. my grandpa drove to the school in his old cadillac that he had glued an american flag to the roof off and raised so much hell that the police were called. the bike should have been my mom’s but you can’t just go to a school and start calling people cocksuckers! he wasn’t allowed back for parent teacher conferences after that but he did accompany me on several field trips as a chaperone. he always wore a baseball hat and sunglasses until we were safely on the bus and out of the building to conceal his identity from the principal who was not the same principal the school had twenty years ago just in case he ever got recognized as the man who once lost his shit over a balloon contest. this is the same man who got out of serving in the military by pleading insanity. to this day i am unsure if actually clinically insane or a ruse.
they left behind an impressive legacy of chaos-- think bart simpson but sadder with more neglect. we swore like grown men and my sister wore the same pair of dirty yellow sweatpants from walmart every day, but my sisters and i were sweet angel babies lovingly referred to as the honey sisters. how the apple can fall so far from the tree is beyond me. my mom dropped out of school in the 7th grade. my grandma worked at the post office and was only off on mondays, so my mom would skip school every single monday. sometimes she pretended to leave and would hide in the closet until school time and then pop out and be like, “SURPRISE! I didn’t go to school!” she missed so much class that the school stopped keeping track and she just stopped being enrolled? it seems like a thing child protective services would look into but chicago public schools are not the greatest so whatevs. all my uncles were kicked out of school for joining gangs, so me being on the honor roll every year since birth did everyone a s h o c k.
we all had the same 8th grade teacher, ms. cutty, who was one tough binch. when i first started her class she was hesitant to trust me because she distinctly recalled every misdeed of the family before me and often took the time to remind me of some fucked up thing one of them did decades before my time. like that one cool time my uncle carved c-u-n-t into her desk after school, or that hilarious scene in which my grandfather was arrested for protesting a children’s contest with violent slurs. just little things like that. every year at the start of class she told students that she got her name because when they didn’t behave, she would ‘cutty’ off men’s you know whats. like, i can’t. she’d make a scissor gesture with her fingers and nod as if it were the most normal thing in the world to tell a group of confused 13-year-olds she chopped off so many dicks she got a nickname for it. she flunked my mom in u.s. history and spearheaded getting my uncles expelled and placed in alternative school, but i am a blood traitor and adored her.
it is a bit disappointing to know i will never be able to embarrass my son into exile the way my family had done me. the only embarrassing thing i have done so far is try to sneak a photo of his new vice principal and i think he saw, which, oops! i really needed my friends to confirm that he is the hottest assistant principal to ever assistant principal and should my child use this as testament to gain emancipation when he is 17, i stand by the decision to hastily photograph a man without his consent at preschool orientation.
he already belongs to the world more than he does to me.