In the winter, whenever my phone rings and I see Ryan’s preschool on the caller ID, I immediately feel about a hundred years old.
I dread these calls like a hanging. I know why they’re calling, and it greets me like an onrushing illness, a letter from the IRS, a door-to-door salesman during dinner.
It’s another goddamned snow day.
This morning I get such a call from the director at Ryan’s preschool, as Jack and I are working with his new physical therapist.
I reach over, pick up the phone, and look at the screen. Seeing who it is, I turn away from the PT and mouth the most fervently vile stream of profanity uttered in this house in — I don’t know, at least 12 hours.
Hello, I say, with all of the affect of a corpse.
The director greets me in her typically sunny, professional manner. As usual, she hastens to assure me that Ryan is fine.
I know that, I think. Now I’m not.
As usual, she wants to inform me that the school is “monitoring the weather.” Never once on these calls have they said that they’re monitoring their parents’ sanity, but I digress.
The director informs me that Late Birds (the hour-long after-school program Ryan attends from 3-4 PM) is being cancelled proactively.
I feel like Quint sliding down the deck of the Orca into the gaping jaws of the shark.
She asks if I can come get Ryan at 3.
Of course not, I think. Why do you think we have him in Late Birds in the first place?
I tell her I’ll figure something out. For a second, I consider telling her I’ll have Jack come pick him up, but decide that such an expression of bitterness would do neither me nor the Woog any favors long-term.
The director gives me a heads-up that I should monitor email for updates on early dismissal.
There’s no need. On days with any amount of frost-like precipitation, Ryan’s preschool follows the public school system, which employs a ready, fire, aim policy with respect to cancelling classes, like we live in Atlanta, not Philadelphia. Like road salt and snow trucks are entities of science fiction.
The administrators at Ryan’s preschool (who really are wonderful people, I should note, on every day except snow days) occasionally cite this precedent as somehow being exculpatory.
I reject it out of hand, for two reasons:
First of all, the public schools make up snow days. Fancy-assed expensive private preschools (weirdly) do not.
Second, see above.
Anyway, the email from Ryan’s preschool arrives, as expected. “Please pick up your child no later than 1:30.”
W. T. F.
How do the other parents do it? How are they able to just ride out with sixty minutes notice, come scoop up their little boogers, and return to their homebound sequestration in order to entirely blow off the day? And, apparently, without much of a peep?
Do these people simply not have babies while their four and five-year olds are in preschool? Do they hold off on making doctor’s appointments in the winter? Ladies and gentlemen, do neither the moms nor the dads in these families have paying jobs?
Because if the aforementioned pre-existing conditions apply, then they must be royally screwed. At random, and without forewarning.
Now, I’m not one of these parents who seem to think that preschool teachers have a soft job or that it’s some kind of life-perk to be able to school my Golden Child seven hours a day. Far from it.
I’ve been in Ryan’s preschool when the place is en fuego. Dozens of little dervishes bouncing off the walls like farts in a spacesuit. Kids crying, fighting over Legos, slamming their pedal cars into each other like they’re bumper cars at the arcade. On full blast, the place is like an 18th Century asylum with kids as the clientele instead of adults.
By the time I stumble through the doors into the parking lot, my head is ringing, I’m gasping for air, and I’m the one who needs a valium. I have no idea how these people do this work without major-league narcotics.
Which is just the point. It’s either them or me. All of Ryan’s teachers are truly beautiful human beings. They’re practically plaster saints. They genuinely care about the kids who come into their classrooms.
They’d have to. No one without a criminal predilection for lewd and lascivious would do this job for one week without really, really caring for the beautiful children left in their charge.
But I’m sorry. So far, since January, I count:
- Eight snow days off, so far (I’ll bet you Ryan’s favorite toy they’ll cancel school tomorrow, so let’s make it nine)
- One and half days off for MLK (I have a dream too, you know: that you people stop cancelling school every time it snows)
- A four-day weekend for Presidents Day (I cannot tell a lie: that one really burned my ass)
- And, next week, six and half days off for Spring Break (Which really means ten and half days straight with no relief. Which means this blog may go dark for a while, and hopefully not because the author is in jail)
We depend on these people, and pay them a megaton of money, to work the monstrosity out of our small children before we permit them back into our homes.
And, lest you get the impression that I’m centering myself, that I want to make this travesty all about me: I’m not the only one who suffers.
Poor Jack doesn’t get the time and attention a baby like him needs when his at-home parent is fending off his stir-crazy older brother with a whip and a chair, like some half-assed lion tamer.
That’s right. All day and no school makes Jack a — Ryan, take the monster truck off of your brother’s head! NOW!
UPDATE: The dreaded email came in.
Ryan’s preschool will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday, March 21, due to the winter storm.
Stay safe and warm, and fingers crossed that this is winter’s last hurrah.
The Selfish, Soul-Killing, Dada-Destroying Directors of this Heartless and Horrible Place
See you in hell.