Day 223/730: Connections

Going against convention to get the job done.

6th Grade Orientation

These are interesting times people. Family units are far from looking anything like the Pleasantville archetype. Blended families are on the rise and our school system is doing what it can to adjust, albeit slowly. How do schools handle custom co-parenting schedules; father’s family, mother’s family, and all of the; boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, step-parent, and step sibling issues that come along with it without disenfranchising one side or the other?

Last night I was one of the “lucky ones” who was able to sit in a humid, stuffy, hot, and crowded multipurpose room for sixth grade orientation. To the left side sat a very excited newbie middle school student annoyed with her two year old brother who was squirming in her lap. To the right side was the soon-to-be step mother (for the sake of school we just call her step-mom) who, while attentive, was trying not to melt through her chair. As the parade of school officials gave there obligatory presentations all that went through my mind was, “Swim down! Swim down!” It was so packed with sweaty bodies fanning themselves that it brought to mind the climax of Finding Nemo where our hero directs the tightly packed fish to work together. Then I glanced to my right, here we are just a couple of fish caught in the traditional tide of the school system doing the best we can for the children.

About twenty minutes before the orientation started Kait, the 10 year old, was in line to get her ID. We finally made it to the front where we were stopped and were asked for the schedule that was in a car about 5min away.

“But she needs her schedule or the picture can’t be taken.”

“She has a schedule but it is en route.”

“I didn’t see you here this morning. How did she get the schedule.”

“The packet was filled out on her father’s time, so her step-mother was the one that turned it in this morning and picked up the schedule. It’s on its way.” I flashed the guard dog my text confirm it wasn’t a ruse. “I have copies of the paperwork that was turned in. Kait brought them with her from the YMCA program.”

“Well, the best I can do is tell you to go to the office, have them print you a copy, and she can get back in line for her picture.”

I looked back at the line and surveyed the snake that was now wrapping its way in the shape of horse shoe around the perimeter of the multipurpose room. Are you freakin’ kidding me right now?! For a moment my brain quipped, “Kait is on my week. I should have been the one with the paperwork to turn in for the schedule. Besides, she is my daughter. This wouldn’t have happened if…” I stopped myself abruptly and told my brain to go stand in the corner and think about what it was thinking. At that moment the schedule walked through the door and quickly found its way to Kait allowing her to pass into the picture zone. Seriously?!

Truth be told, “step-mom” and I do this sort of thing all the time, co-parenting. I only tend to have my territorial thoughts during stupid and stressful situations like getting stone walled. Together “step-mom” and I take care of all the “mommy” duties between the homes. We actually do pretty well together considering our mothering philosophies differ a bit.

This is just the beginning of the year. The first day of school isn’t even until next week. We have already rolled our eyes at the marathon of misunderstandings and parental blocking we are going to get from the staff. The teachers aren’t so bad, but the office staff can be like a pit of guard dogs. We are just trying to make things as easy on our children as possible. No matter what our personal annoyances may be with each other (as rare as they are, we have them) we come together as a united front when it comes to the girls. We already have the nature of the children working against us to “divide and conquer”, the girls certainly don’t need any help from the school system to help in undermining our authority.

All three of us parents continue to fight the good fight. Hopefully, in the future, our more traditional of institutions will come around to support us.

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