Addie, nefarious genius that she is, has figured out the golden ticket for getting out of school– all she has to do is so much as mouth the word “diarrhea”, and the whole school goes into lockdown until the offending party has been removed. Never mind that she didn’t actually have diarrhea– no one will check. The threat of it is enough to get her booted from school for 24 hours.
Never a big believer in dignity, Addie pulled this move earlier today, getting herself banned from school until Monday, and I think she thought she was pretty smart. Until, that is, I pointed out with no small amount of glee that this meant she would miss the Tropical Fun Fair.
The Tropical Fun Fair has been looming large in my late-night anxiety sessions since the first flyer came home a few weeks ago. Of course I would have to take her– what kind of monster doesn’t take their child to a world of bounce houses, inflatable slides and unlimited candy? But the specter of the Halloween Fun Fair was always there, just beyond the edges of my Instagram-worthy photo ops at the obstacle course and the treat walk.
The god damned Halloween Fun Fair.
It started out so promisingly– I loaded Rosie into her stroller and slapped Addie’s Minion costume on her, and we were on our way. I had envisioned something sort of lame and amateurish, but the whole thing was actually sort of awesome– games with prizes, a haunted classroom, a pumpkin decorating contest, and inflatables as far as the eye could see.
It was in front of one of these bounce houses that another parent cornered me and began talking about Addie– I was prepared for a lecture about Addie’s introduction of the word “fartknocker” into her son’s lexicon, but instead, she surprised me, telling me how sweet Addie had been to her son, and how she had really helped him get acclimated to school and was taking really good care of him.
“You’re doing a good job raising her,” she said to me with a smile. “You’re a good mom.”
And it was at that exact moment that I realized that Rosie had gone missing. My good mom cred! Destroyed before my very eyes! I hadn’t even gotten her to put it in writing!
I spotted Rosie inside the inflatable obstacle course, guarding the entrance like some sort of sugar-crazed Cerberus. There was a crowd gathered around, gawking, and I trotted up, shouting “that’s my daughter! I’ll get her out, I’m sorry!”
But before I could do anything, the teenage volunteers working the obstacle course decided that the best way to extricate her from the situation was to force her to go all the way through the obstacle course, rather than just pull her the eight inches she was from the entrance. So now, everyone is staring, Rosie is screaming, and I’m sprinting to the end of the obstacle course to rescue her. As soon as I reached the mouth of the obstacle course, my foot caught on a wrestling mat, and I fell to my knee, hard enough to elicit immediate tears.
“FUCK!” I screamed, just as my baby emerged from the course, plopping happily to the ground and giggling as if nothing had happened.
So now I am crying, and have just screamed a swear word in an auditorium jammed with children, and a gaggle of eighth-grade girls materializes as if from nowhere and begins laughing at me, and suddenly I am back in middle school.
“It’s time to go,” I told the girls, still crying, but Addie begged me to stay just a little longer. It wasn’t their fault that I was experiencing intense sixth-grade gym flashbacks, so I relented, retreating to a bathroom to wipe my face with toilet paper and reassemble myself into the confident, 36-year-old woman I was. I am a motherfucking manager, you little shits. Your laughter cannot hurt me!
The rest of the Halloween Fun Fair passed without incident, the other mothers politely ignoring my tear-swollen face. Addie won her eight billionth bouncy ball, Rosie scored a plastic spider, and they were finally appeased.
When I got home, ready to spin the story into something hilarious for Ben, he cut me off before I could even start.
“You’ve got some shit on your face,” he said.
And sure enough, it turns out that elementary school toilet paper is powerless against grown woman tears, and dried shreds of it clung to my cheeks, my eyelashes, the tip of my nose. I looked like a failed papier mache project, and I frantically combed my memory banks to think of everyone I had interacted with after the obstacle course incident.
Everyone. I had basically interacted with everyone. With toilet paper stuck to my face.
So I am perfectly willing to use Addie’s diarrhea incident to put the kibosh on the Tropical Fun Fair. It really has no downside– I get to teach her a valuable lesson about lying to get out of school, and I can avoid making a spectacle of myself in front of every mother in the tri-state area.
I’ll never get out of the Fun Fair business entirely. But you can bet that next time, I’m bringing a leash and my own box of Kleenex.